Due to serious underfunding of the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, by federal government, the agency has for long been assisted by international oil companies and other operators to discharge its regulatory functions, an industry expert has said.
Chief George Owarieta, former NNPC top official and Managing Consultant, Independent Mediation Consultancy Services, who disclosed this, said the underfunding has greatly affected DPR’s ability to effectively regulate the petroleum industry.
In a paper presented at the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers 3rd Branch Delegates Conference, Owarieta said it got to an extent where the department depended on the NNPC or joint venture operators for basic facilities such as transportation to field locations, provision of modern equipment for effective monitoring and human capacity development.
He said the problem of DPR funding is historical, where the department which was supposed to be autonomous, was perpetually tied to the apron string of the NNPC particularly in the areas of providing medical services and funding part of its staff welfare benefits such as pensions.
He added that the problem of DPR, due to its paltry funding, was further complicated by the problems of the Nigerian society, where sharp practices and corruption are endemic. People looking for quick wealth engage in petroleum products diversion and adulteration, petroleum product theft among others.
“DPR has been made the scape goat with vitriolic criticism of their competences and inability to deliver on its mandate of regulating the industry.”
On the current Petroleum Industry Bill before the National Assembly, a critical appraisal of the proposals contained in the PIB reveal that as usual, the crafting of the overall objective of the Bill is sound and imaginative but only that the bill will bring further complications arising from multiple institutions regulating the industry.
In his remark, Director, DPR, Mr George Osahon said his management is trying to improve the image of the organization in order to earn the respect of its stakeholders.
Oh his part, the branch chairman, Comrade Emuago Emmanuel, said the department generates over N1trillion annually for the federal government yet this issue of underfunding is ever prevalent.
Information from Daily Trust was used in this report.