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Youth, Women Seize Total Facility In Rivers

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Residents of five villages comprising elderly men, women and youths in Obite, Ogba Egbema Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers State, have occupied a gas plant owned by Total E&P Nigeria Limited.
The protesters, who vowed to remain in the facility until the oil giant come for negotiation, lamented that Total had refused to obey the 2018 Supreme Court judgement on compensation for land it acquired in the area for its operations.
Mr. Daniel Clifford Uma, one of the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court’s suit, said though the court ordered Total to pay the communities in 2018 on a matter that commenced in 2005, the company had refused to obey the judgement.
He said the community was demanding about N2.5 billion from the company as compensation for all hectares of land it acquired.
He said: “The protest is because of total negligence from (by) Total E&P. This thing started 22 years ago. Some of the people that started this matter have died.
“We started this matter when Elf came to acquire this land, 28.8 hectares of land. When this started, we told them to pay us our land compensation, (but) the Land and Claim manager said the Land Use Act does not allow multinationals to pay for land acquisition.
“The communities went to court in 2005, we got judgement in our favour in a court in Ilorin, Kwara State. They went on appeal and in 2006, the Appeal Court also ruled in our favour. They proceeded to the Supreme Court. On the 19th of January, 2018, the court also ruled in our favour.
“We sent the judgement to France and we copied them here to come for negotiation. Meanwhile, the matter was in court, they came and acquired 98.4 hectares of land in addition to the earlier 28.8. Till now, they have ignored us. Anytime we come to seek the implementation of the judgement, they will use security men to intimidate us.
“We are here to tell the whole world what is happening to us here. They should come and pay us our land compensation. There is no employment for our youths”.
Explaining further, he said: “What the Supreme Court gave in their judgement is that the company should compensate us against their own claims. The court, that time, awarded N25 million for the 28.8 hectares. But today, we are demanding N2.5 billion. If they do not come for negotiation, we are not leaving here.
“Another aspect of it is that we do not have a running Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the company and we pleaded it in court.
“We only hear that there is Environmental Impact Assessment but we have not seen it. There was a time when there was explosion in this gas plant, we carried out our own EIA, we submitted it to them, they rejected it.
“What they built here is not for the community, it is for the multinational, so they should compensate us. They have flooded our community with military and the elders have said we are not leaving here until they meet our demands”.
Also, a community chief, who identified himself as S.O. Brown, decried the refusal of Total to engage the community in dialogue, saying the operations of the company denied them their sources of livelihood.
He said: “We won them in all the courts we went to. We have told them that after the court, it was time for dialogue but the company refused. We are not leaving until they attend to us.
“This facility has caused us a lot of blindness. We don’t drink rain water any more because of contamination, many are sick and some have died. The worst is that they are not employing our youths. We shall be here till we get what we want”.
When contacted, Total’s Manager, Project and Corporate Communication, Senan Murray, said the firm had continued to maintain cordial relationships with its host communities.
He said the company would address issues raised by its host communities in an official statement.

 

By: Tonye Nria Dappa

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Oil & Energy

BUA Group, A’Ibom Sign MoU For Refinery’s Access Road

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Bua Group has signed a memorandum of understanding, (MoU), with Akwa Ibom State Government, and the host communities in Ibeno Local Government Area, for the construction of access road to the proposed Bua Refinery and Petrochemical plant site in Ibeno, last week.
Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Power and Petroleum Development, Dr. John Etim, who presided over the signing of the MoU, applauded BUA for their commitment to the project, prompt documentation and the preparation of the site towards the construction of the refinery.
Etim said that the refinery project will bridge the gap between host communities and Akwa Ibom State, thereby bringing about more developments in the oil and gas sector of the State.
The Commissioner called on all parties concerned to be committed to the terms of agreement and to ensure that peace dominates their relationship, while appealing to the host communities to protect the facilities which is now in their custody
“The refinery and petrochemical project is in line with the Governor’s vision to industrialise the State, develop local capacity in key industries where value can be added and raw materials sourced locally.”
Speaking shortly after the MoU signing, the Chairman of Ibeno local government, Williams Mkpa, expressed delight over the development, describing it as a giant stride in the industrialisation vision of the Akwa Ibom State Government.
The paramount ruler of the area, Owong Effiong Archianga, assured the company of his people’s unalloyed support and cooperation to see to the actualisation of the project.

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Oil & Energy

CSO Urges Oil Communities To Challenge PIA In Court

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A Civil Society Organisation, Policy Alert, has faulted President Muhammadu Buhari’s signing of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, urging communities to test the provisions of the Act before the courts.
President Buhari had signed the erstwhile Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, into law last Monday amidst protests from community groups and many other stakeholders that the Bill do not adequately cover the rights and interests of the host communities.
In a statement signed by its Communications and Stakeholders Engagement Officer, Mrs. Nneka Luke-Ndumere, Policy Alert, which is working for economic and ecological justice, described the presidential assent to the PIB as “grossly insensitive and problematic.
“It is sad that the bill has been assented to in the most controversial manner despite its many obvious flaws and its rejection by many stakeholders,” the statement read.
It added: “For example, the controversial provision for a direct payment of 30 percent profit oil and profit gas to the Frontier Exploration Fund potentially shortchanges the oil producing states and local governments of some of its thirteen percent derivation as it bypasses the requirement in section 162 (2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which provides that all revenues be channeled through the federation account.
“This is most unfair, viewed against the ceding of only three percent of previous years’ operating expenses to the Host Communities Development Trust Fund and the punitive provision to charge costs of any damage to facilities against the community’s Fund, among other obnoxious provisions.
“That Mr. President has gone ahead to give assent to these vexing provisions only reinforces the politics of exclusion and expropriation that has for long characterised the relationship between the Nigerian state and the oil producing communities.
“We are also concerned that the host communities’ component of the legislation flies in the face of one of its stated objectives to address tensions between host communities and companies as it has all the ingredients for escalating rather than abating such conflicts.
“At a time when fossil fuel investments are being deprioritised elsewhere as a result of the global energy transition, it is unfortunate that this Act failed to provide a bridge between the current era of fossil fuel dependency and the low-carbon energy future that Nigeria aspires to within the framework of government’s much vaunted commitments under the Paris Agreement.”
The statement also said: “Granted, the new legal framework introduces some predictability and clarity to the governance and fiscal arrangements in the oil and gas industry. We are also not oblivious to certain clauses that respond to some of our earlier demands, such as those providing that the Board of Trustees of the Host Communities Development Trust will now be determined in consultation with the host communities, with  membership drawn from community members. But that is just as far as it goes.
“As a tool for improved benefit sharing to host communities, the Act falls flat on its face. It actually ridicules the exertions of the host communities and advocacy groups that have clamoured over the years for a law that yields some space for participation, direct socio-economic benefits and environmental remediation for oil-rich communities.
“The theatre of action will now have to move to the communities and the courts of law. As implementation of the Act gets underway over the next 12 months, we urge host communities and civil society groups to begin to seek interpretation of some of its more controversial provisions before the courts.”

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Oil & Energy

Kyari Tasks Greenfield Refinery On Fuel Importation

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The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mallam Mele Kyari, has charged members of the Board of the NNPC Greenfield Refinery Limited (NGRL), to explore all available options to bring an end to the current challenge of petroleum products importation.
Mallam Kyari gave the charge Thursday while inaugurating the Board of the newly incorporated subsidiary of the Corporation, NNPC Greenfield Refinery Limited (NGRL), at the NNPC Towers, Abuja.
The NNPC Greenfield Refinery Limited is a subsidiary of the Corporation set up in December 2020 with a mandate to oversee the establishment and operation of new refineries.
The GMD, who is also the Chairman of the NGRL Board, challenged members of the Board to focus on profitability in order to remain afloat and avoid liquidation.
“As a business, this is a big opportunity for us and this company’s balance sheet must change positively. Going forward, with the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), I can tell you that if you continue to post negative for three years, you are out. So, there is really no excuse”, Mallam Kyari stated.
He urged the Board and Management Team of the new company to set up a proper structure with the required skills, technology and financing to drive the company’s operations, adding that he was optimistic that the company would be able to achieve its mandate.
“Our company must grow and we can’t do well except we are able to process our production whether it is the liquid or gas. If we don’t monetise it then we have done nothing. This is really a new chapter and we are committed to making it work,” he said.
The NNPC helmsman stated that all the Corporation’s initiatives in the areas of new refineries, condensate refineries and equity acquisition in credible private refineries were geared towards ensuring energy security for the country.
In his remarks, the Alternate Chairman of the Board and Group Executive Director, Refinery and Petrochemicals, Engr. Mustapha Yakubu, declared that the operations of the company would be guided by the principles of cost effectiveness in line with the new Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), noting that profitability would be the key focus.
Speaking in similar vein, the Group General Manager, Greenfield Refineries and Project Division (GRPD) and Managing Director of the NGRL, Engr. Bege Talson, disclosed that the Division was working with third party investors to establish greenfield, modular and condensate refineries with a combined capacity of 250,000barrels per stream day (bpsd).

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