By Anayo Onukwugha, Port Harcourt
The Rivers State government has said it is lobbying the Federal Government to grant licences to youths of the state to build and operate modular refineries.
The state Commissioner for Energy and Natural Resources, Dr. Peter Medee, disclosed this in an interview with LEADERSHIP in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
Medee stated that state government lobbying team is headed by the Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry-Banigo, who is the Chairman of an inter-ministerial committee set up by Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, to find alternatives to artisanal refining of crude oil in the state.
He said: “Alternatively, we also have an inter-ministerial committee headed by Her Excellency, the deputy governor of the state. It comprises 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 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 licence for them to begin the modular refinery approach.
“As we speak, Her Excellency is in talk 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.”