MPs allocate whooping SSP 450M for oil fields audit

MPs allocate whooping SSP 450M for oil fields audit

The national parliament has allocated SSP450 million to the ministry of environment to carry out environmental and social impact assessments in the oil-producing states.

Out of this amount, SSP 100 million was allocated for environmental strategic assessment to enable the ministry to strategise and develop its early warning system to mitigate any looming or anticipated environmental impact, contemplating the unpredictable world of climate change.

The lawmakers also allotted SSP 500 million for environmental monitoring equipment and laboratories and SSP 200 million for environmental education and awareness out of the overall SSP 11 billion allocated for other activities of the ministry.

The petroleum ministry gave contracts to three companies to conduct a thorough environmental audit in the oil fields.

Three companies—Panloy, Envage Associates, and SGS Company Limited—were awarded environmental contracts after competitive bidding to carry out the audit.

The ministry of petroleum asked the three contracted companies to complete the work within 90 days from its commencement.

According to the national minister of environment and forestry, Josephine Napwon, the results of the environmental audit performed by the three companies would be sent to her ministry, after which, she will hand it over to the parliament.

She warned that any oil company found to be responsible for environmental pollution would be held accountable.

“It is not going to be easy for any company that has violated the environmental policies in the oil-producing areas,” she warned.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme’s First State of Environment and Outlook Report 2018, the absence of environmental standards and guidelines to protect exploration and exploitation in the extractive industry has resulted in pollution in the oil fields and the surrounding areas.

The agency noted that the trend needs to be reversed by creating and enforcing environmental policies, standards, and guidelines.

The residents living in areas near oil production fields have reported cases of children born with deformities, miscarriages, and deaths during deliveries as well as the deaths of their livestock.

The information minister of defunct Ruweng state, Abraham Ngor, highlighted the negative effects of oil production on local residents in 2019.

According to him, oil contaminated nearby water bodies, and the area saw two birth defects in August 2019 alone.  He said the children were born without hands, feet, limbs, or eyes due to the effects of oil pollution.

He disclosed that since 2017, there had been 267 cases of miscarriages and 10 deformed or disabled births and 12 deaths during labour; all within the town.