26 December 2011, Sweetcrude, Yenagoa – Fears that the parley on the transition from the construction to operations phase of the multi billion naira Gbaran-Ubie Integrated Oil and Gas Project between the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and stakeholders from the project area would be stalemated has turned out to be a mirage.
The meeting, a close-out event to mark the successful execution of the GMoU phase I cluster development of the Gbaran-Ubie project, which was held last Tuesday at the Government House Banquet Hall in Yenagoa, attracted prominent indigenes of the four clusters led by their royal fathers.
Though the Bayelsa State Deputy Governor, Rt. Hon Werinipre Seibarugu was invited as a special guest to witness the event, he was nonetheless absent due to urgent state matters and was represented by his Special Adviser on Oil and Gas Mr. Idisi Tovie Bello.
The message from the Deputy Governor, who incidentally is from one of the host community to the Gbaran-Ubie project urging the chiefs and community leaders to partner with SPDC to sustain the existing peace and socio economic development in the host communities may have calm frayed nerves.
Sweetcrude reliably learnt that in the old order, the elites had overwhelming influence as against the new order which represents an important shift in approach, placing emphasis on more transparency and accountability, regular communication with the grassroots, sustainability and conflict prevention.
This, it was further learnt, makes the interface more manageable, and sets out the roles and responsibilities of all parties as well as making it possible for the community people to take driver’s seat in the SPDC Corporate Social Responsibility to it’s host community. In the process the community people now decide what they want, determine the contractor and execute the projects with the help of the mentoring NGOs.
It is against this backdrop that the state Deputy Governor called on the host communities to sign the new GMOU with the company to enable them benefit socially and economically from the oil giant stressing that any community that refuses to sign the agreement stand to lose a lot from the firm.
Earlier, the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) said it had invested N3.911bn in communities hosting the Gbaran-Ubie Integrated Oil and Gas project in the state.
This, the company said is in addition to other projects implemented by the contractors and sub contractors that handled the multibillion naira project the first of it’s kind in the Niger Delta.
Vice President, HSE & Corporate Affairs, Tony Attah, who spoke at the event said it marked another milestone in the mutually beneficial relationship that exists between SPDC and the host communities of the Gbara-Ubie Integrated Oil and Gas Project.
Represented by the Manager Government Community Relation Affairs, SPDC, Mr. Evans Krukrubo, Attah said the project has been successfully completed and is achieving its objectives of increasing Nigeria’s oil and gas production capacity and at same time delivering real benefits to host communities.
According to SPDC, in 2006 the company signed Memorandum of Understanding MOU with four clusters namely, Gbaran/Ekpetiama, Okordia/Zarama/KoloCreek and Epie/Attissa clusters as they chose projects to be executed with funding provided by Shell.
He lauded members of the Project Advisory Committee PAC of the clusters, including community leaders and Non governmental organization NGO for their commitment and hard work in ensuring the fulfillment of the community development projects which resulted in the delivery of the Gbaran –Ubie project.
According to him, SPDC signed Project Global Memorandum of Gbaran/Ekpetiama, Okordia/Zarama, Kolo Creek and Epie/Atissa.
Under the terms of the agreement, he said the clusters chose and executed their own projects with funding provided by the company under the project.
Mr. Attah said, “we commend members of the Project Advisory Committees of the four clusters, community leaders as well as the implementation of NGOs for their commitment and hard work. Their efforts ensured the fulfillment of the community development projects and resulted in the delivery of the Gbaran-Ubie Project ahead of schedule.”
Mr. Attah said, “in regular GMoU, community people will still choose and implement projects, with funding from SPDC. We are happy that one of the clusters, Okordia/Zarama has already transited smoothly to the new dispensation.”
“SPDC operates 11 regular GMoUs in Bayelsa State. Gbaran-Ubie is one of the largest oil and gas projects in Nigeria, with facilities encompassing five oil and as fields in a 650 square kilometre area.
“Work began on the project in 2005 and it achieved first oil in June last year with 200 million standard cubic feet per day (mmscf/d). On the 5th of February this year, the project recorded one billion standard cubic feet of gas per day (bscf/d) production, ahead of schedule.”
In his remarks, the paramount ruler of Gbarain Kingdom, King Funpere Akah commended the company for its developmental efforts in the area and assured SPDC that the youths would protect its facilities in the area from saboteurs.
The monarch called on SPDC to invest more in the communities, assuring that the host communities would partner with the company to enhance high productivity and socio economic development.
His words, “the communities are ready to work with SPDC for future development of the country and the clusters.”
Highlight of the event was presentation of certificates to representatives of the cluster communities by the management of SPDC.