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FG, Anambra fault firm over illegal oil drilling in Ogbaru council

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The Federal and Anambra State governments have faulted alleged illegal drilling of oil at Ogbaru Council Area by Sterling Exploration and Energy Production Company (SPEEPCO) without proper approvals.

Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, said SPEEPCO failed to obtain the required regulatory permits before embarking on drilling at the site, saying it was a clear violation of section 62 of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Act.

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Ikeazor, who disclosed this at a stakeholders engagement meeting on the operations of SPEEPCO in Agulu, Aniocha Council area yesterday, and organised by the Environmental Impact Assessment Department, Federal Ministry of Environment, said an order to stop work was issued to SPEEPCO on July 6, 2020.

“Beyond the stop-work order, the ministry shall ensure that the full extent of the law is brought to bear on the erring party. Far-reaching ideas and recommendations will make the execution of the Ameshi Oil Field development project at the highest level of environmental sustainability,” she said.

She added that one of the objectives of this administration was to optimally use the country’s oil and gas resources to boost foreign earnings and create employment opportunities for Nigerians.

Ikeazor restated that the ministry’s mandate was to ensure environmental protection, conservation of natural resources, and sustainable development.

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Speaking, Governor Willie Obiano noted that SPEEPCO has been operating in Ogwu Aniocha and Ogwu Ikpele communities since 2014 without registering their presence with the statutory authorities in the state.

Obiano, who declared the event open, appealed to the Federal Government to regulate the illegal activities of SPEEPCO in Anambra, lamenting that its operations had constituted environmental challenges to the state.

“SPEEPCO’s operations have worsened the living conditions of people in those communities, creating tension and restiveness that have endangered the relative peace and security before the company’s arrival.

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“SPEEPCO has continued to operate in the state without compliance with extant laws and regulations for the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbon resources.

“The laws include, Environmental Impact Assessment and permits for exploration, well drilling, pipe laying, and facility construction.

“There is absence of engagements with host communities, no corporate social responsibility or community development projects and non- compliance to land acquisition, resettlement action plan and compensation plan for injuries and fatalities,” he stated.

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