Delta communities protest sale of OML 30

Emma Amaize

16 October 2012, Swetcrude, WARRI – FIFTY-FIVE oil and gas producing families in Urhobo and Isoko communities of Delta State, under the aegis of Association of Oil and Gas Producing Communities, have called on the Nigerian government to halt the sale of Oil Mining Lease, OML, 30.

They made the call in a communiqué signed by the president and secretary of the association, Mr. Joseph Abinogun and Mr. Felix Atojare respectively, following an extra ordinary meeting in Warri, saying that they were not contacted in the negotiations for the transfer of operatorship.

The oil block is located onshore Nigeria’s Niger Delta, approximately 45 kilometres east of Warri, and covers an area of 1,095 square kilometres.

In July, British Heritage Oil, in partnership with Nigerian Shoreline Power, agreed to buy a 45% stake in OML 30, divested from oil majors Shell, Total and Eni in a $850 million deal for the operation of a segment of the Trans Forcados pipeline.

Among those who attended the meeting were former chairman, Ughelli North Local Government Area, Chief George Osikorobia, Prof. Omo-Udogo, Prince Philip Abuke, Alhaji Mumakai Unagha, Mr. Abel Ato, Amos Akeh, Pastor Daniel Anibor and Prince Oharisi.

They insisted that Shell was lawfully bound to give them first refusal under the Local Content Act of 2010, before bringing people outside the families for the purchase, adding that they would continue to resist the sale until justice is done.

The association resolved to join the current suit before the Federal High Court Asaba challenging the sales should Shell and the government fail to address their demand.

The families agreed in the communiqué to collaborate with the Chief Peter Asagba-led OML 30 committee to ensure effective representation, noting that they have implicit confidence on the committee.

They dissociated themselves from the various publications made by some persons purporting to be representing oil-producing communities in Urhobo and Isoko, pointing out that they were not members of Oil and Gas Producing Families.

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  • Granting these communities a right of first refusal is neither here nor there. Before divesting from OML 30, Shell operated the lease under a joint venture with the federal government through the NNPC. The communities/families making this demand must understand that Shell wasn’t under any obligation to offer them a ‘right-of-first-refusal’. Government’s stake in the block is still intact. It therefore doesn’t make any sense to interpret the intent of the Nigerian Content Act out of context.