The Federal Government has asked the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to take operatorship of OML 11 from the end of next month possibly to forestall disruption of oil production in the Niger Delta.
The directive was companied in a statement issued and addressed to the corporation’s Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, by the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari. The ‘juicy’ facility, earlier operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), lies in the southeastern axis of the region and contains 33 oil and gas fields. Eight of them have been producing from 2017.
The Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF) had last year called on government not to renew the lease for the oil well, which expires June this year. However, the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) has rejected the move.
The 28,000 bpd fields were shut following the killing of Ken Saro Wiwa and others in 1995.
In a statement, MOSOP’s President, Fegalo Nsuke, maintained that the resumption of oil exploration in Ogoniland in the face of current pollution remained unacceptable.
However, President Muhammadu Buhari has declined assent to the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) Act (Amendment) Bill passed and sent to him by the National Assembly last year.
In a letter sent to Senate President Bukola Saraki and read on the floor of the chamber yesterday, the president said his decision was pursuant to Section 58 (4) of the 1999 constitution (as amended). Specifically, he said the piece of legislation undermined the powers of the Minister of Petroleum Resources and functions of the ministry.
Buhari, who doubles as the Minister of Petroleum Resources, stated: “I am declining assent to the bill because in a number of important sections, the bill undermines the powers of the Minister of Petroleum Resources and the functions and responsibilities of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.”
The Nigerian leader also rejected the imposition of 0.5 per cent of operation funds on oil companies, explaining that this would create addition tax burden on the multinationals operating in the country. He listed the contentious areas in the proposed law to include sections 3, 6 (1a), 7 (a) and (b); 8, 9 and 11.
Buhari Stated: “Section 8 of the bill imposes a new charge of 0.5 per cent of operation funds on oil companies for the enforcement of environmental legislations in the petroleum sector. “This imposition is an additional burden on the industry, particularly given that it is unclear what operation funds mean for the purpose of applying the provisions of the bill.”