…By Datonye Alambo..
Natives of the two major towns in Nembe Kingdom came together for the first time in years to protest the alleged diversion of crude oil by Shell Petroleum Development Company despite divesting its interests to Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Limited in Twenty-Fifteen.
Ogbolomabiri and Bassambiri have been locked in age-long disagreements but locals from both towns set aside their differences for once to demand that the multinational oil company comply with a court order to reallocate over two million of the alleged diverted barrels of crude to Aiteo.
Community members said the situation has adversely affected developmental needs and projects in Nembe.
The People of Nembe City or Ogbolomabiri and Opu Nembe or Bassambiri in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State have been locked in disputes dating back to several centuries.
But, natives of these two Island towns seem ready to bury the hatchet as they for once came together at the bridge connecting both areas along the Nembe Road to demand that multinational oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company comply with a court order to return two million, eighty-one thousand, six hundred and seventy-eight of the alleged diverted barrels of crude from its Bonny Export Terminal to Aiteo.
Carrying several placards displaying different messages on the issue, youths and women of both towns joined Chiefs and opinion leaders chanting solidarity songs as they drummed and danced to drive home the message.
Community Leaders, Chief Ben Eyororokumo, a former Special Adviser to the Governor on Inter Party Relations and Chief Wanemi Dadigiba, Chairman, Nembe Oil and Gas said both towns decided to forge a common front to demand compliance to the court order to SPDC on crude oil proceeds from Oil Mining Lease, OML 29 which is one of the highest producing fields in West Africa.
Youth Leaders in both Towns, Engineers Albert Tons-Benebo and Moses Ayerite insist that as host communities they are critical stakeholders who should be given their rightful place in the scheme of things.
A woman Leader Mrs. Afuroyanate Beredugo and an opinion leader, Ambassador Ebiribo Obene said the area has been denied some benefits as a result of the development.
Some locals from Bassambiri had last week embarked on similar protest on the matter.
OML 29 which consists of 9 fields including the iconic Oloibiri oil field produces an average of 40,000 to 50,000 barrels per day, peaking at 90,000 barrels per day in 2017 and the least of 22,500 in 2015 holds 2.2 billion barrels of oil equivalent.
The initial lease was granted by the Federal Government of Nigeria to Shell Petroleum Development Company in 1964 and renewed after twenty-five years in July 1989, for a term of thirty 30 years expiring in June 2019. The licence was formally held by Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited Joint Venture (SPDC), comprising Total E&P Nigeria Limited and Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited.
In September 2015, Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production (E&P) Company Limited, a subsidiary of Aiteo Group announced their acquisition of OML 29 and the Nembe Creek Trunk Line and related facilities in the Eastern Niger Delta from the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) at $1.7 billion.
A 2 million barrel crude deficit between 2016 and 2018 reported at the Bonny terminal operated by SPDC has caused a dispute amongst several oil firms that use the oil export facility.
SPDC in a statement through its Media Relations Manager, Mr Bamidele Odugbesan says allegations of involvement in oil theft or under reporting at its Bonny Crude Export Terminal were factually incorrect and misleading.