Department of Petroleum Resources on Thursday declared that it had given a grace period of three months for all illegal filling stations and gas plants to regularise their facilities or face the full wrath of the law. It disclosed this in Abuja as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the DPR charged operators in the oil sector to abide by stipulated regulations as a simple mistake by an industry player could wipe out the entire business in the value chain.
Speaking to oil industry operators at the DPR Annual General Stakeholders Meeting in the Federal Capital Territory, the Abuja Zonal Operations Controller for DPR, Abdul Abba, stated that the agency had taken measures to ensure that illegal retail outlets were regularised.
“I must, however, stress here that a time frame has been set to the first quarter of this year for owners of illegal outlets – filling stations and gas plants, to regularise their facilities. DPR will take all necessary measures within the ambience of the law on any illegal retail outlet that fail to regularise after the expiration of the grace period,” he said.
He noted that the gathering was meant to bring together major players in the downstream oil and gas sector to review 2018 operational challenges and set out a new plan for 2019.
Abba said, “We have seen where lack of compliance to the statutory regulations with respect to depots, filling stations and LPG outlets has led to huge losses in investment, lives and degradation of the environment.
“This forum was, therefore, set up as part of DPR’s continued efforts of sensitising stakeholders on safe operations of petroleum handling facilities and guidelines governing their operations, so as to have zero accidents to humans and the environment.”
On his part, NNPC’s Group Managing Director, Maikanti Baru, specifically stated that compliance with regulations by operators in the sector was the biggest challenge confronting the industry currently in Nigeria.
Baru said, “The theme of today’s workshop is extremely important because regulatory compliance is a veritable tool for safe and efficient operations in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector, and indeed in the global industry.
“We all remember that over the years, we’ve learnt from a lot of very regrettable mistakes that led to incidents that transformed the way we do business in this industry. It is important that we always remember that one mistake in the oil and gas industry is sufficient to wipe out the entire business. It is as bad as an aircraft crash.”
The GMD, who was represented by a Group Executive Director of the NNPC, Henry Ikem-Obih, added, “So as operators, we have a responsibility to support the efforts of agencies like DPR, PPPRA (Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency), PEF (Petroleum Equalisation Fund) who daily drive compliance in the industry.”
The NNPC boss also stated that it was important for regulators to always ensure that they enforced regulations because without enforcement they would never achieve full compliance.
He said, “The responsible operator will comply, whether you are there to visit their facility or not, but a lot more of the operators will not comply. This is because the cost of non-compliance is cheaper than complying with regulations.
“But the truth is that the long term benefits of compliance far outweigh the short term benefits of non-compliance. So the only way you can achieve longevity in any business in any sector is by ensuring that you comply with regulations.”