*Shell calls for dialogue on Belema Flow Station & Gas Plant
19 September 2018, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt — The Pan Niger Delta Elders Forum, PANDEF, has condemned the alleged forceful invasion of Belema flow station and gas plant by security operatives on the alleged orders of Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC.
Recall that on the 7th of August, 2017, the host communities of OML 25, otherwise known as the Belema field had shut down the Belema flow station and continue to occupy it over some issues and differences with SPDC bordering on neglect and underdevelopment of the community by the oil firm.
Speaking, the National Publicity Secretary of PANDEF, Chief Anabs Sara-igbe, said before the shutdown, the communities of Belema, Offoinama and Ngeje, complained to the President and the GMD of NNPC, on SPDC’s refusal to carry out their corporate social responsibility for over 40 years and the non implementation of the GMOU signed between the communities and them since 2005.
Sara-Igbe also accused the Chairman of Akuku-Toru Local Government Area, Mr. Roland Sekibo, of being induced by Shell to cause crises in the area, adding that the people of Kula would resist any attempt by SPDC to exploit the communities.
He called on the Rivers State Governor and the Amayanabo of Abonnema to call the LGA boss to order before his actions plunge the Local Government Area and the entire Niger Delta Region into another round of avoidable catastrophe.
“PANDEF condemns in strongest terms, last week’s invasion of OML 25 host communities by the JTF with five Naval gunboats and 7-speed boats conveying thugs on Saturday, on the orders of Shell, in connivance with Hon. Roland Sekibo, the Chairman of Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State.
“PANDEF believes the Council Chairman has been bribed and funded by SPDC to induce crisis, trouble, and infighting for the sole purpose of intimidating, suppressing and arm-twisting the people of Kula Kingdom, the host communities of OML 25 into subjugation, as it is with Shell to browbeat the people from defending their God-given rights.
“Whatever might be the reason for his greed, anxiety, and lust for power, wealth and money, PANDEF enjoins the council boss to apply wisdom and understanding in handling delicate and sensitive issues such as shutting down of oil and gas facilities by host communities.”
PANDEF further said it is an insult for Shell to forcefully use security operatives to re-enter the facility when they are yet to resolve the impending matter before the President Muhammadu Buhari, NNPC and NAPIMS.
“SPDC is known, the world over for her divide and rule antics which is at the heart of the sorrow, anguish, wailing, and regrets that has become the lot of most of the oil-bearing communities in the Niger Delta. Her roles in the infamous Ogoni and Kula crises which claimed hundreds of lives is still fresh in the mind of Niger Deltans, Nigerians and the International communities.
“The people of Kula are no strangers to Shell’s antics, hence their common resolve to banish SPDC from further operation in their territory. They are consequently appealing to the Department of Petroleum Resources, NAPIMS, NNPC and the Federal Government of Nigeria not to renews the lease of OML 25 in 2019 in favour of SPDC.”
Meanwhile, the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, SPDC, has denied allegations of invading OML 25 host communities which have unlawfully occupy the company’s production facilities at Belema Flow Station and Gas Plant since August 11, 2017.
SPDC in a statement by its Media Relations Manager, Mr. Bamidele Odugbesan, restated the company’s commitment to dialogue and peaceful resolution of disagreements with the invaders.
“A group of people invaded the facilities on August 11, 2017, ejected the staff on duty and have illegally remained in occupation of the facilities since then.
“The group has so far rebuffed all entreaties to resolve their grievances through dialogue but has instead demanded the immediate transfer of ownership and operatorship of the facilities to their preferred indigenous oil firm, under the pretext that SPDC has over the years neglected the interests of the local community.
“SPDC believes that all stakeholders in the matter should give the Rivers State Government-initiated mediation process the chance to resolve the disagreement peacefully.
“Contrary to the false claims, SPDC will only resume operations at the facility when it is safe to do so.”
“Our primary goal is the safe and peaceful resolution of this dispute, and we encourage all parties to return to dialogue to protect the safety and security of all concerned including those occupying the facility, community members, SPDC staff and contractors,” the statement quoted SPDC External Relations General Manager, Mr. Igo Weli.
Weli restated the company’s commitment to implementing the social investment programmes for the communities including the Global Memorandum of Understanding which has suffered a delay in implementation due to in-fighting among the different communities in the Kula Kingdom, including Belema and Offoin-ama.
He noted that notwithstanding the prevailing situation in the area, the host communities of OML 25, including Belema and Offoin-ama, have continued to benefit from contract awards, employment of unskilled labour and SPDC’s social investment programmes, including the yearly award of regular and special scholarships to eligible candidates from the area.