The House of Representatives, Wednesday, urged the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd and its allied firms to put out the suspected methane gas fire at Caritas University’s premises at Amorji, Nike, Enugu State.
The House also mandated NNPC, the Department of Petroleum Resources and all relevant agencies to undertake a detailed study of the environmental impactsf the fire. The resolutions followed a motion entitled, ‘Need to Investigate the Unending Fire at Caritas University Site, Enugu’, moved by the House deputy minority, Hon Toby Okechukwu. The motion came under ‘Matter of Urgent Public Importance’. Okechukwu represents Aninri/Awgu/Oji River Federal Constituency of Enugu State.
He said the fire had lasted for over 21 days, causing losses in the process. In his words, “It reportedly started after borehole drillers engaged by the university struck a gas belt after drilling about 1,242 feet below the earth.
“All efforts by the Nigerian Civil and Defense Corps (NSCDC), federal and state fire services, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and its state counterpart to put out the fire, including pouring over 12 tanks of water and four drums of chemicals, failed. “But there has been no known intervention by the NNPC or any of its agencies.
“Okechukwu expressed concerns that the suspected gas flaring posed serious risk to both the public and the environment. He drew the attention of the House to existing indications, by experts, of available mineral deposits in the South East, coupled with the recent recognition of Anambra and Kogi states as oil producing states, hence the need to explore oil in the Enugu belt.
The lawmaker further raised the alarmthat an estimated 5,000 cubic feet of gas was being consumed every minute in the fire. The House therefore mandated its Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) to follow up on the resolutions and report back to the House within two weeks.