By Chidubem Anthony
In view of the many “loose ends” in the ongoing clean-up of the oil-degraded Ogoniland, the Institute of Oil and Gas Research and Hydrocarbon Studies (IOGRHS) has requested for significant funding from both public and private organisations to research into the usefulness of the soil post-clean-up.
Speaking during the Oil and Gas Product Forum in Lagos, the IOGRHS Chairman of Council, Prof. Akin Akindoyeni, said the research, which would also include the different exploration-induced environmental pollution in the oil-producing areas and their consequences, would require hundreds of millions of naira.
According to Akindoyeni, “the current environmental cleaning effort is unsatisfactory to say the least. More importantly, to what use will those cites be put after cleaning? For previous agricultural land, that land will no longer be useful for agricultural purposes.
“For fishery, it is doubtful if the fish will migrate back to those creeks, they are mostly very close to the shoreline. We are advocating for funds to update research into the most probable uses of such sites after the cleaning exercise.
“We believe the responsibilities of the oil companies are not exhausted until there is an economic utility of this exercise. We don’t want to propagate any kind of mind-twisting inputs until we have facts, and these facts should be based on focused research.”
Meanwhile, the institute has decried the continued 100 per cent crude oil export and refined products import, stating that huge revenue, infrastructure and employment opportunities in the value chain were being frittered in the process.
Akindoyeni noted that tremendous progress was being made in the production of shale oil, sand oil (tar sands) and other energy resources to reduce green gas emissions, and “if the current rate of progress is maintained, the need for daily oil production will be reduced to the manufacture of by-products such as grease and hard polymers.”
However, just as many of these by-products of huge economic values were being carelessly lost to the crude refining nations, other mineral hydrocarbon deposits available in commercial quantities in Nigeria and other African nations, including bitumen, have remained unexplored and unexploited, he said.
“With the current trend of developing and finding more economic alternatives to oil and gas, as well as hydrocarbon products, countries with such deposits make some of these minerals unnecessary to exploit in the face of more economic alternatives.”
Against these backgrounds, “we are advocating a rethink in the exploitation of these products in the face of the things mentioned above. Presently, we collect the natural resource as mineral, give it at right price to those who can refine it, and they give the refined products back to us at their price, sometimes higher than what we sold. Where is our gain?
“Our institute has recommended that our refineries be repaired, refurbished and maintained to produce in the minimum the nation’s requirements in refined products. We don’t have to purchase such from elsewhere. “In so doing, we could at least ensure the exploitation of our resources for domestic benefits, industrial development and improved welfare of the nation, as well as keep the proceeds when we export these resources.”
Photo Caption: A glimpse of the highly degraded Ogoniland