Senate President Ahmad Lawan has warned the operators of the Kolmani Oil and Gas field not to contaminate the area like Ogoniland in the Niger Delta.
Lawan said the people of the North-East are principally farmers and land is very dear to them, hence, the operators of OPL 809 and 810 should be very cautious of how they carry out their activities in the Kolmani oil field which is between Bauchi and Gombe states.
He stated this on Tuesday when President Muhammadu Buhari flagged off the Kolmani Integrated Development Project for upstream production and oil refining.
Lawan, who represents Yobe North Senatorial District in the Senate, expressed delight at the discovery of the first oil well in the frontier basins, saying more Kolmani oil fields can be discovered in Northern Nigeria.
The Senate President said, “The fact that we have oil does not automatically give us the edge that we need. But we are comforted because we have an NNPC that today can do a lot more in the area of deployment of technology, in the area of ensuring that the environment is really contaminated.
“What has happened in the Niger Delta is worrisome even though to the credit of this administration, the oil spillage and other oil contamination have been worked on in the area of clearing the spillage, especially in Ogoniland and that is something worth $1bn.
“Your Excellency, therefore, I want to advise that the operators of OPL 809 and 810 should be very cautious and mindful of how they sustain their activities without contaminating the environment of our people.
“Our people are largely farmers and therefore land is very dear to us and we don’t want to lose any land. Our people are very cooperative and we believe that that synergy between the operators and host communities will be smooth.”
Lawan further expressed his elation that Bauchi and Gombe states will soon be getting 13% oil derivation paid by the Federal Government to oil-producing states.
The lawmaker made a case for host communities which he said bore the brunt of oil exploration by demanding that state governments dedicate some percentage to these communities. To this end, he mulled a constitutional review on the application of the 13% derivation given to states.
Ogoniland, one of the earliest oil exploration and production sites in the Niger Delta, is synonymous to environmental degradation as oil spills continue to affect the region, due to such factors as a lack of maintenance and vandalism to oil infrastructure and facilities.
In 2016, the Buhari administration flagged off the Ogoni oil spillage clean-up exercise in the Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State but rights groups in the area have said the oil spills remains untreated, or only partially remediated. The development has affected farming, fishing and other activities within the area.
Buhari, at an elaborate ceremony on Tuesday, flagged off the Kolmani Integrated Development Project in the North-East, the first of its kind in the zone.
Buhari said the oil exploration at the Kolmani River located between Gombe and Bauchi states has already attracted over $3bn investment and will boost Nigeria’s fortunes and earnings.
He also said there is currently over 1 billion barrels of oil reserves and 500 billion Cubic Feet of Gas within the Kolmani area.
The project is expected to start with a daily production of about 50,000 barrels of crude oil.
The event was also attended the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu; Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Slyva; and the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, Mele Kyari.
Others include Governors Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), Inuwa Yahaya (Gombe), Simon Lalong (Plateau). The Group Managing Director of the New Nigeria Development Company, Shehu Mai-Borno, was also in attendance.
Quest for oil exploration in North
For decades, oil exploration remained in the Niger Delta area but the NNPC in 2019 announced the discovery of crude oil in the Kolmani River at the border community between Bauchi and Gombe states.
Subsequently, Section 9 of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) signed by the President established the Frontier Exploration Fund (FEF) with the allocation of 30 percent of the profit from NNPC’s upstream oil and gas contracts for the purpose of oil exploration in Kolmani as well as Anambra, Dahomey, Bida, Chad & Benue Trough.