Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State has called on the Federal Government to intervene in the illegal activities of Sterling Exploration and Energy Producing Company (SEEPCO), currently drilling oil at Ogbaru Local Government Area of the state.
The governor made the request on Saturday while declaring open Stakeholders Engagement on Environmental Impact Assessment on the proposed Ameshi Field Development Plan, OML 143, held at Agulu, Anaocha Local Government Area.
The event was organized by the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Department of the Federal Ministry of Environment.
Tribune Online gathered that the Environmental Impact Assessment is a process of evaluating the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project or development, taking into account inter-related socio-economic, cultural and human-health impacts, both beneficial and adverse.
According to the governor, SEEPCO had been operating in Ogwuaniocha and Ogwuikpele communities since 2014 without proper registration with the state and lack of observance of the rules in the exploration industry.
Obiano while expressing optimism that the meeting will assess the extent SEEPCO had gone in compliance with the communiqué of their last meeting, provide detailed information about its activities, stressed that the status of
Anambra State as oil and gas producing state is not in doubt.
While urging the Minister to help Anambra State asses ecological fund to salvage its remaining land mass, Governor Obiano frowned at the current devastation of the host communities that are flood-prone, which according to him, has resulted in serious erosion.
The Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, on her part at the event, said in exploring the Nation’s abundant hydrocarbon reserves, extreme caution must be taken to ensure that the best practices from the environmental perspective are adopted to avoid jeopardizing the future.
She called on the participants to examine issues like flooding, decline in biodiversity, land degradation, oil spill, waste management and socio-cultural and gender-based issues, with a view to averting social upheavals and civil unrest.
Ikeazor, who affirmed that her ministry observed that SEEPCO did not obtain all the required regulatory permits before embarking on drilling at the site, promised to ensure that the full extent of the law is brought to bear on the erring party.
Earlier, the Special Adviser to Governor Obiano on Legal and Petroleum Matters and the Convener, Lady Pat Igwebuike explained that the meeting was aimed at making sure that progress is made in oil and gas activities in Anambra state.
The stakeholders present were mostly people with backgrounds in physical sciences, including engineers, physical and social scientists as well as ecologists.