The Minister of State for Environment, Mrs Sharon Ikeazor, says the Federal Government is committed to boosting hydrocarbon resources for export, so as to create employment opportunities across the country.
Ikeazor made this known in a statement issued by Mr Saghir el Mohammed, Director Press in the ministry, on Sunday in Abuja
Addressing stakeholders on the Environmental Impact Assessment of the proposed Ameshi and Enyi Field Development Project, by Sterling Exploration and Production Company Ltd (SEEPCO), Ikeazor said that the commitment was one of the cardinal objectives of the present administration.
She, however, said that the exploration of the abundant hydrocarbon reserves must be done in an environmentally sustainable and friendly manner so that the potential negative impact of any exploration project are identified and mitigation measures put in place.
Ikeazor said one of the objectives of the present administration in the oil and gas industry was to optimally utilise our proven reserves to boost earnings and provide employment opportunities for various categories of professionals, together with the skilled and semi-skilled labour force.
“Towards this end, and in exercise of its regulatory responsibilities, the ministry of environment has observed that SEEPCO did not obtain all the required regulatory permits before embarking on drilling at a site, in clear violation of section 62 of the Environmental Impact Assessment Act.
“Consequently, a stop-work order of July 6, 2020 was issued to SEEPCO,” she said.
Ikeazor charged stakeholders to come up with far-reaching ideas and recommendations that could assist in making the proposed Amechi FDP a development project that would be executed at the highest levels of environmental sustainability.
Earlier in his remarks, Anambra governor Willie Obiano said that the stakeholders’ meeting was a follow up to a series of complaints from the state government on the exploration activities of SEEPCO in the state.
He said that the meeting was aimed at looking at and resolving issues between the state government and Sterling Petroleum so as to create a conducive working environment in the development of the oil and gas potential of the state.
While welcoming the minister to the state, the governor expressed the hope that her visit will avail her the opportunity of seeing first-hand the activities of SEEPCO, whose activities in the state had led to what he called disastrous environmental degradation of the Ogwu-Ikpele and Ogwu Aniocha communities in Agbaru Local Government Area.
“Their operation has further worsened the plight and living conditions of those communities, thereby creating palpable tension and restiveness that were uncommon before the company arrived.
“We are counting on you to ensure that SEEPCO complies with the EIA requirement, so that we can leave no stone unturned in our quest to become a member of the oil and gas producing state in the country,” Obiano said. (NAN)