The Senate on Tuesday directed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to refund N382,203,055.74 it claimed to have used in firefighting operation during a pipeline explosion in Kom-kom, Rivers State.
The Senate also mandated the NNPC to urgently pay the cash into the national treasury and provide evidence of compliance to its Committee on Petroleum (Downstream).
These resolutions followed the adoption of the recommendations of the report of the Senate Ad-hoc Committee that investigated the Pipeline Explosion in Komkom, Rivers State.
Recommendation 11 on the report reads: “That NNPC (NPSC) should refund to the treasury, the outrageous sum of N382,203,055.74 only it claimed to have used in firefighting operation in Komkom and provide evidence of compliance to the Committee on Downstream Petroleum Sector.”
The report also showed that 96 persons died during the unfortunate inferno, according to the submissions of the Paramount Ruler of Komkom Community, High Chief S.N. Azuh and his Secretary, Kins Okorie, which was attached to the report.
The ad hoc committee was chaired by Senator Ibrahim Gobir.
The Senate also urged the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to immediately send relief materials to the fire incident victims of both communities (Komkom and Ijegun) to alleviate their pains.
Other recommendations of the committee adopted by the Red Chamber are: “That the Nigerian Pipelines and Storage Company Limited (NPSC) a subsidiary of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) should without further delay carry out proper assessment of the contaminated environments for immediate clean up and remediation.
“That the Nigerian Pipelines and Storage Company Limited (NPSC) a subsidiary of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the contractors should carry out proper survey of the impact of the fire incidences on the communities, determine the actual number of recorded deaths and pay adequate compensation to all victims and the affected communities.
“That NNPC (NPSC) should without further delay embark on Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) in re-laying pipelines especially in identified hotspots where erosion has exposed the pipelines to the surface so as to conceal them from vandals as earlier advised by Lagos State Government.
“That NNPC (NPSC) should involve members of host communities in pipeline surveillance within their various areas as an interim preventive measure.
“That NNPC (NPSC) should as a matter of urgency install pressure monitoring devices and shut-off valves at close intervals on all petroleum products pipelines across the country.
“That NNPC (NPSC) should re-evaluate their security and monitoring outfits on the pipeline routes across the country.
“That NNPC should immediately invoke article 3.2 of the contract agreement entered with UTM Offshore Limited, issue a query to the company and provide evidence of compliance to the Committee on Downstream Petroleum Sector.
“That NNPC (NPSC) should immediately formalize its contract agreement with Oilserv on pipeline surveillance and provide evidence of compliance to the Committee on Downstream Petroleum Sector.
“That NNPC should start the process of deploying modern technology in pipeline surveillance and detection of leakages as well as introduce cathodic protection on the pipelines.
“That NNPC (NPSC) should carry out proper check on all the petroleum product pipelines across the country to ascertain their status for either repairs or total replacement.”
“That the Governments of Rivers and Logos States as well as all pipeline host community leaders should sensitize all occupants of Pipeline Right of Ways to vacate the Right of Ways.
“That pipeline owners (NNPC) should liaise with the State Governments to vacate all occupants of the Pipeline Right of Ways.
“That as a matter of urgency, the NOSDRA Act should be amended to address current realities in the petroleum sector.”
The panel also revealed that “the gun shot by the police officer who wanted to scare villagers away and carry already scooped products by the villagers ignited the explosion and the consequent fire outbreak in the Komkom, Rivers State incident.”
The committee in its findings also averred that the fire incidences in Rivers and Lagos States were avoidable if the NNPC/NPSC and the contractors maintaining and monitoring the pipelines had been proactive.
The committee further observed that both the NNPC/NPSC and the UTM contractor were aware of the Komkom pipeline leakage two days before the explosion but delayed in taking necessary action.
It noted that the NNPC/NPSC and the Oilserv contractor were aware of the intended activity of the vandals and the leakage a week and a day respectively before the Ijegun explosion but delayed in taking necessary actions.
It also said that the security personnel in connivance with NPSC staff collaborated with the vandals to siphon petroleum products from the pipelines.