Regulators trade blame as killer fuels dominate oil business
While various scientific research results have linked annual deaths of more than 100,000 Nigerians to air pollution, partly caused by the dirty fuel imported into the country by commodity dealers, the various regulatory bodies saddled with the responsibility of ensuring quality fuel sales have continued to engage in buck-passing.
The different agencies responsible for regulation in the oil and gas sector, including the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), and to some extent, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), have failed in their responsibility to ensure that regulatory rules and procedures are complied with by players in the sector.
A recent research, which was publicly presented in May, and conducted by an independent international watchdog organisation – Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN) – concluded that as dirty and unsafe for use as the fuels refined illegally by vandals in Nigeria’s creeks may be, they are ‘cleaner’ than those officially imported and legally sold at filling stations across the country.
It is a confirmation of a report earlier released in 2018 by the Dutch government which revealed that fuels refined in the Netherlands and exported to West African countries including Nigeria are far below officially recommended standards and cannot be sold anywhere in Europe.
According to the SDN report, samples taken from official filling stations in Lagos, Nigeria’s densely populated commercial centre, and those collected from artisanal refineries in the creeks of Bayelsa and Rivers States were subjected to laboratory tests to confirm their toxicity and their compliance with best quality standards.
The research, which is said to be partly funded by the UK Foreign Office’s anti-corruption conflict, stability and security fund, is part of SDN’s efforts to assist those affected by the extractive industry and weak governance by exposing irregularities and shady deals.