COMMUNITIES in Okirika Local Government Area of Rivers State have demanded licence from the Federal Government to operate modular refineries.
The community made this demand on Thursday during a sensitisation programme titled, “End the sabotage, save the future, say no to pipeline vandalism and oil theft; think modular refining: A new way to go.”
The programme was organised by the Oil and Gas Surveillance Stakeholders Forum and the Okirika Local Government Area.
Speaking at the event, a member of the Council of Chiefs of Okirika, Chief Tamuno Akaluogba, who represented the Chairman of the council, Chief Amiesimaka Kala-Owolo, and the leader of the Niger Delta Vigilante, High Chief Ateke Tom, noted that the community was ready to commence operation should the Federal Government give it the opportunity.
Akaluogbo stated, “The people of Okirika should request for the licence to operate our own modular refinery first from the Federal Government before other people start because we have suffered so much from oil impact.
“We have all it takes to build our own modular refinery. The Federal Government should approve it for the people of Okirika. Our chiefs, including Chief Ateke, hate oil theft and illegal refining. We are capable of operating it because we have the money it would take and the other resources if the Federal Government gives us the chance to build.”
Akaluogbo regretted that the activities of illegal oil refiners were affecting the communities of Okirika, adding that there was need for the full implementation of the modular refining.
He urged the Federal Government to compel security agencies in the state to return crude petroleum products recovered from oil thieves for proper refining at the refinery rather than wasting them and causing harm to the environment.
“The Federal Government should tell the security operatives to always return stolen products to the refinery for refining. They should stop wasting them because they are causing harm to us and our environment,” Akaluogbo said.
In his remark, the Caretaker Committee Chairman of Okirika Local Government Area, Mr. Wilson Alabere, urged government to give more chances to the people of Niger-Delta region to operate the modular refineries.
Alabere expressed worry that over 80 per cent of oil blocks located in the region were given to individuals who were not from the Niger Delta area, stating that the region should be given more chances to operate the modular refinery to enhance development in the region.