08 March 2015, Abuja – The House of Representatives has resolved to investigate the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, and the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) over allegations of sharp practices in the divestment of Oil Mining Lease (OML) 11 by the Anglo-Dutch oil multinational.
Prompted by a motion sponsored by Hon. Uzoma Nkem Abonta (PDP, Abia), the House would probe the circumstances surrounding Shell’s exit from the said oil block and host communities knowing how interested it was in the build-up to the acquisition process.
According to Abonta, “Shell Petroleum is desirous of relinquishing its interest in some oil blocks especially OML11.
“We aware of the discrepancies, lack of transparency and insider trading arrangements in the bidding process by SPDC,” he said.
The lawmaker also stressed that “the motion is asking the House to look at what Shell is trying to do with those oil blocks.”
“OML as far as I’m concerned, is a leasing agreement which is not forever. It is given and elapses at a given period of time. But what is happening now is not in tandem with our laws.
“Based on crisis precipitated by Shell itself, it’s trying to leave those oil blocks having set youths of host communities against themselves. They did not adhere to best international practices, now the place is hot for them and they want to abandon it and go elsewhere.
“So the question is that are they competent to lease it out? Is that the rule? What Shell is trying to do is just like, I rent out my house to you; your rent expires and instead of vacating the property, you now want to rent it out to another tenant without my consent.
“And we are also saying that for peace to reign since we have not passed the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), let the communities be carried along in the so-called biding process for the re-acquisition of the relinquished oil blocks so that they can participate and get some level of ownership if they are interested.
“We have local content law which spells out how things are done taking the interest on host communities and indigenous investors into consideration,” he said.
The communities hosting the said oil blocks are: Gokana and Tai Ogoni communities in Rivers State, Oyigbo, Asa Ukwa oil field in Abia State as well as Adoni, Opobo and Bonny in Rivers State.
*Muhammad Bello – Thisday