In a letter to the Senate Committee on Petroleum Upstream, led by Senator Tayo Alasoadura(APC, Ondo Central), DPR explained that the states could only attain such status if the oil firm in the area, Orient Oil, scales up its operations from oil prospecting to oil mining lease.
In his remarks, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Tayo Alasoadura, who noted that the issue at stake was about a referral to the committee on the contentious boundary among Anambra, Kogi and Enugu states, stressed that a report that the Federal Government confirmed Anambra oil-producing status threw up the matter to the front burner.
Alasoadura noted that his committee lacked the powers to declare a state oil producing, adding that the committee believed that the agency in the best position to settle the matter was the National Boundary Commission(NBC).
He further explained that the committee wrote to the DPR, but noted that response from the agency was not satisfactory.
Speaking when the committee met with the NBC, Alasoadura said the committee decided to hear from the Commission because a similar issue in Ondo State in the past was resolved by the commission.
Alasoadura, however, explained that the Boundary Commission could do nothing without the cooperation of the states, adding that states should also establish their own boundary commissions to enable them to work directly with the National Boundary Commission.
He said that the committee will meet with the oil firm to find out why they could not meet up with the requirements, assuring that the committee will write to DPR to find out why since 2012, the license given to the company to test run oil extracting had not been approved for a permanent one.
In his contribution, Senator Chukwuka Utazi(PDP, Enugu North), noted that the issue of OPL 915 and 916 dated back to antiquity.
He said: “I didn’t know that this motion would come up, because we had already resolved the issue when Senator Isaac Mohammed Alfa was away.
“Kogi and Enugu State do not have a problem; the two are in agreement. But Enugu and Anambra are not in agreement.
“We in Enugu want to be declared as oil producing state too. Let that be done pending when the boundary commission finishes its work.”
Also in his contribution, Senator Isaac Alfa(PDP, Kogi East), explained that there was no contention on the need to recognise the affected communities as oil producing communities.
“If Orient Petroleum didn’t meet the requirements, who gave them the license to operate? The government should ask itself questions. This issue should be put squarely to DPR,” he said.
On his part, the Acting Director General, National Boundary Commission, Adamu Adaji, noted that the issue was a tripartite one involving the three states.
He said the commission had been on the issue for some time, adding that the challenge they had were related to legal framework.
On his part, Senator Magnus Abe, APC, Rivers, said from what the commission said, “it is already doing something, but the problem is except the commission does what some people want, the work can’t be done.”
Abe suggested a way out: “We’ll have to set up a joint team with the boundary commission so that we can have adequate security before they can go and do their job.”