15 March 2012, Sweetcrude, ENUGU — ORIENT Petroleum’s desire to achieve first oil from its acreage has run into stormy waters following comments credited to Chairman of the company chief Emeka Anyaoku which has rubbed off the host community and local government authorities, the wrong way.
Uzo-Uwani local government area of Enugu State where the two oil blocks acquired by Orient Petroleum are located, have threatened to stop the company from commencing activities in the area for allegedly failing to accord the council its due recognition.
Chairman of the council, Cornel Onwubuya, who briefed newsmen on the development,Wednesday, frowned at what he described as misleading pronouncement from chairman of the Board of Directors of Orient Petroleum, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, that Anambra would soon become an oil producing state, even when the oil wells which the company intended to explore are located in Enugu State.
According to him, the pronouncement by the former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth is already generating tension among the host communities of Igga, Asaba, Ojjor and Ogrugu in Enugu State.
He said: “Following the widely publicised Orient Petroleum’s facilities inspection trip to Enugu Otu by the company’s chairman, board of directors, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, alongside Anambra State governor, Mr. Peter Obi and other notable personalities and statements coming therefrom that Anambra State, to the exclusion of Enugu State, was set to join the league of other oil producing states in Nigeria, I on behalf of Uzo-Uwani LGA of Enugu State, want to register my peoples’ displeasure against the above misleading pronouncements from Chief Emeka Anyaoku which is already generating tension amongst oil hosting communities of Igga, Asaba, Ojjor and Ogrugu in Enugu State.”
Onwubuya contended that since these communities were in Enugu State, the records have to be put straight that with the commencement of production of crude oil any time from now, Anambra and Enugu states would automatically become oil producing states and have their fair share of liabilities and privileges accruable to other oil producing states in the country.
Agreeing that Orient Petroleum was promoted by majority of Anambra State indigenes, with controlling shares of the company, Onwubuya insisted that the least his local council will expect from the management of the company was to ensure that the council was put in the picture of what was happening about the exploration of oil in the wells.
He vowed that his local government would not allow itself to be excluded from being fully involved in benefitting from the resource.
“This is because the two oil wells, from all historical and documentary evidence are situated in Igga land in Uzo-Uwani local government of Enugu state.
“The distance of the oil wells to Igga is 8 kilometres and 7 kilometres from Echenwo community in Ibaji local council of Kogi state. The nearest Anambra migrant settlement, Enugu Otu to the oil well is 50 kilometres,” he said.
Onwubuya, however, declared his council’s willingness to co-operate with Orient Petroleum to execute its crude oil production mandate from the inland basin belonging to Enugu, Anambra and Kogi states, saying that this was as a result of courtesy visit paid Governor Sullivan Chime by Orient Petroleum in which the governor assured them of the commitment of Enugu in the successful take off of oil production.
He also demanded that his local government should be beneficiaries in trerms of the Local Content Act by way of offering employment to qualified indigenes of the area by the Orient Petroleum just as he asked the oil company to observe international best practices in the environmental management of the inland basin as crude oil production commences, bearing in mind that the host communities in Uzo-Uwani LGA are predominantly fishermen and rice farmers.