Rivers state lobbies FG for licences for modular refineries
The Rivers State government says it has begun lobbying the Federal Government to grant licences to youths of the state to build and operate modular refineries.
The State is one of those suffering from the activities of illegal refineries, operated by youths in many parts of the state resulting in the degrading of the environment as represented by the incidence of soot in the atmosphere.
Speaking in an interview in Port Harcourt, the state Commissioner for Energy and Natural Resources, Dr Peter Medee, said that the state government lobbying team headed by the Deputy Governor, Dr Ipalibo Harry-Banigo, was looking foralternatives to artisanal refining of crude oil in the state.
According to him, Governor Nyesom Wike had to constitute an inter-ministerial committee chaired by the Deputy Governor to lobby for the licenses.
He said: “Alternatively, we also have an inter-ministerial committee headed by Her Excellency, the deputy governor of the state. It comprises the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, Ministry of Chieftiancy and Community Development and the Ministry of Youths.
“We are out to see what we can do to be able to get alternatives to this artisanal refining. The major alternative that is available for now is the modular refining approach.
“Because of that, the committee has a timeline of actions; one of which we have completed, which has to do with talking with the leadership of various communities because they know the people involved in this artisanal refining.
“This is to enable them to link them back to us because if we go directly after them, they may think that we want to arrest them. This is not to arrest them, but an effort to put them together into a cooperative so that we can do our very best to get a licence for them to begin the modular refinery approach.
“As we speak, Her Excellency is in talks with the Minister of State for Environment and they are taking it from the environmental angle; the impact of artisanal refining on the environment of Rivers State. You are aware of the sooth which is purely more of the outcome of their activities in terms of pollution.
“From that angle, the state cannot just write a licence and give to them, all we can do is to lobby and talk to the Federal Government to get that for them, which Her Excellency is already doing with the office of the Minister of State for Environment at the federal level.”