Publish data on gas flared fines you have received – CSO tells NUPRC

A civil society organisation, Peace Point Development Foundation, has called on the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) to show transparency in the receipt and utilisation of gas flare fines received from oil companies operating in Akwa Ibom State.

It added that NUPRC should not only publish the data on the amount of fines received but also how it expended the monies in remediating the environment of the host communities.

Speaking at a Host Communities Development Trust Multi Stakeholders dialogue held in Uyo over the weekend, Mr Ekemini Simon, the resource person, said there was a need for the publication as provided in Section 104 of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) which the commission has failed to do.

In his paper entitled, “Host Communities Development Trust: Addressing the Gaps as Stakeholders,” Simon explained that the aforementioned section of the PIA provides for the host communities to be compensated directly by the penalties paid as gas flaring fines, therefore, the host communities should be aware of how the monies were expended in the remediation of their environment and impacting on their livelihoods, regretting that reverse was the case

According to him, “There is no transparency in the receipt and utilisation of gas flare fines received by NUPRC since the Act came into force.

“There is need for NUPRC to publish data on the gas flared fines it receives annually and how the funds are utilized for the environmental remediation of host communities as provided for in Section 104 of the PIA.”

Simon also called on NUPRC to review the PIA to absolve host communities of bearing the liability for damages to oil and gas facilities, where direct responsibility cannot be legally established and appropriately direct the responsibility to security agencies, like the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, who have a statutory mandate to protect oil and gas facilities.

He said, “The responsibility given to the communities in the PIA to protect oil and gas facilities or forfeit their 3 percent operating expense entitlements in the Host Communities Development Trust (HCDT), is an aberration.

“This is akin to a landlord tasked with the responsibility of protecting the tenant’s property or forfeiting his rent, especially as experience with most oil companies shows they rarely accept responsibility for faulty oil and gas facilities that have undergone wear and tear.

“Going by the $2,500 fine that the settlor or operator is liable to pay per day from the date of expiration of the notice until the Trust is incorporated, it will mean that just one oil company would have paid $735,000 for failure to incorporate the Trust within 294 days. The equivalent of $735,000 to naira in official rate as of July 19, 2023 was N579.9 million going by N789 per dollar. For 9 companies, it means, NUPRC would have gotten N5.21bn as fine payment for the 9 defaulting companies in Akwa Ibom State.”

Speaking earlier, the Cordinator of PPDF, Umoh Isua-Ikoh, said the foundation focuses on maintaining a safe Environment, peacebuilding, human rights and good governance, adding that the organisation has been achieving that by setting up community advocacy structures everywhere they go.

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