Home | News    Saturday 16 October 2010

South Sudan admits challenges to handle disastrous oil by-products

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By Ngor Arol Garang & Bonifacio Taban Kuich

October 15, 2010 (JUBA & BENTUI) - Authorities from the oil producing region of South Sudan on Friday admitted facing serious challenges to handle dangerous waste products from oil.

Garang Diing Akuong, minister of energy and industry in the semi autonomous government of southern Sudan in an interview Sudan Tribune said the ministry has drawn clear and simple regulatory policies to protect environment from what he regards as “odious oil products” around areas from where the oil is drilled.

“We are aware of the dangers and threats pose[d] by waste from the oil and this was why the ministry created a committee charged with monitoring of daily activities of all oil companies in drilling fields. This committee works in closely with ministry of environment which has department that deals with environmental protection and disposal of waste products including oil, through representatives in respecting drilling areas,” the minister said.

The report came following reports and influential voices from environmental protection professionals, expressing dangers associated with oil products to local people in drilling areas.

Professor, Spencer Kenyi, an academic specializing in environmental protection, told Sudan Tribune in an interview in Juba, observed that authorities from most of the oil producing areas gives little attention to environmental threats to the local population.

“Not all oil products are useful. It comes with waste which must be disposed using proper techniques but authorities often appear unprepared to manage the risks associated with oil production,” said professor Kenyi.

Isaac Awan Maper, minister of environment at Nyakuron Cultural Center on Thursday, told Sudan Tribune that the ministry department which deals with protection and waste management lacks the equipments and capacity to monitor and handle potential problems.

“All of us in the ministry are new. What is currently being done is setting up of the ministry itself. We are still drafting policies and creation of relevant departments,” he said.

South Sudan, which may become the world’s newest country following a self determination referendum in January, is Africa’s third largest oil producer.

With senior government officials coming out openly to admit challenges surrounding how to tackle oil spills, professor Kenyi believes putting in place relevant laws provides one way alternative to avoid danger posed by oil products.

Joining voices of those who have voiced concerns that a spill currently taking place could be a security threaten to the local people from drilling areas, Simon Mijak Miyen, told Sudan Tribune he is concerned when oil by-products force people to leave their homes.

Miyen, a native of Parieng county, one of the largest oil producing areas in Unity state, said that some villages have been deserted due to the presence of oil companies.

In Unity state capital Bentui a forum was arranged by Norwegian Church Aid to discuss the affect the presence of oil companies was having on the state as well as issues regarding demarcating the north-south border.

Director of mass media in the southern Sudan Mr. Ding Yaol told Sudan Tribune that the conference aimed is to get the citizen views about the border demarcation and oil.

The state government heard that people felt they were being ignored by oil companies.

They said that some of them had left their land without compensation to help them to relocate.

(ST)

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