Government should implement community engagement standards to curb oil theft- Meka Olowola 

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Oil and Gas expert, Meka Olowola,  has urged the Federal Government to review its strategy and approach to conflict resolution as it pertains to the oil-rich Niger Delta region by implementing the recently developed Community Engagement Standards; a widely researched framework for consciously and equitably engaging host communities.

He gave the clarion call while speaking with the media recently on strategies to reduce vandalism and theft in the oil sector as part of the New Nigeria Foundation sensitisation program themed “Curbing Crude Oil Theft in Nigeria”.

Olowola identified commitment to acceptable engagement standards across the value chain as a panacea to incessant conflicts in communities that play host to oil and gas exploration and counseled that Nigeria enforces the much-needed discipline in the oil and gas sector, which according to him is currently marred with violence and corruption.

He stressed that the Federal Government needs to espouse the comprehensive standards and principles of community engagement put forward by sustainability inclined stakeholders in the sector led by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Facility for Oil Sector Transparency and Reform (FOSTER II) in Nigeria, CSR-in-Action. Adding that the standards are products of painstaking research and will help in laying solid structures to tackle community conflicts and reduce oil theft as well as illegal bunkering.

According to Olowola, the interminable challenges facing both oil companies and communities in the Niger Delta region can be prevailed over with proper stakeholder engagement and communication. He posits that the need for oil companies to engage in multilayered dialogue with host communities and the government cannot be overestimated and the Community Engagement Standards gives insights as to how this can be achieved using real-life scenarios.

“The rising tension between oil companies in the upstream sector and their host communities impels a multi-stakeholder