The management of Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production has dissociated itself from the protest by Niger Delta indigenes against the Joint Task Force (JTF) in the region.
Recall that the indigenes of Niger Delta last Friday addressed a world press conference in Abuja where they demanded an investigation into JTF activities headed by Rear Admiral Apochi Suleiman.
In a statement yesterday, Aiteo faulted Commander of Operation Delta Safe, Rear Admiral Suleiman, for suggesting that it and the company’s Chief Executive, Benedict Peters, were responsible for the Niger Delta indigenes’ complaints “about actions and outcomes arising from his work at the JTF.”
“For the avoidance of any doubt whatsoever, any attempt by the embattled Admiral Suleiman to suggest our involvement in the activities of those who undertook the event or indeed any other related activity is a distraction designed to fail.,” the company said.
Aiteo said Admiral Suleiman should respond to the allegations, raised by the protesters, noting that his declaring attempt at diverting attention from himself represents an ill-conceived, reckless and ineffectual response aimed at fabricating a distant alibi to aerate a degenerating sore of a festering personal wound.
“Clearly, the Admiral considers that there is some form of wrongdoing around genuine agitation by a people to get protection for their land, property and assets from the vile criminality that oil theft has become. For one who professes to lead a security entity whose principal objective is to engender community safety and protection, this disposition suggests abject insensitivity and a total lack of responsibility, issues presumably at the top of the list of those seeking a change to JTF’s leadership.”
The company said it has responsibilities in the “oil industry requiring focused intensity and attention in the execution of our quite considerable commercial obligations,” revealing: “ With a daily production in the region of 90,000kobp, the NNPC/Aiteo JV is now directly responsible for producing five per cent of the country’s daily oil production.
“In doing so, the group employs over several hundreds of direct staff and thousands of others indirectly through contractors and service suppliers. This sense of responsibility is the bedrock on which our commercial and other activities are founded. Sadly, these oil thefts have meant that we are the one of the biggest victims of oil theft in the country.”
Aiteo said it was necessary to clarify some issues, stating: “The Admiral referred to the Nembe Creek Trunk Line(NCTL) as the property of Benedict Peters. This is a poor, ill-informed and disappointing description of the ownership interests in an extremely valuable asset, which the JTF, under his leadership, professes to support.
It stated that “NCTL is actually more the property of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and we, as operating partners, holding a minority interest.”
The company said the NCTL was an asset owned by the NNPC/Aiteo Joint Venture in which “Aiteo owns 45 per cent and the Nigerian government owns 55per cent.
“How then can the Rear Admiral reasonably suggest that the pipeline is the property of one individual?” it queried.
There are several other oil majors whose crude is injected and transported
It stated that as a result of recurrent thefts along the NCTL pipeline route resulting in significant pressure reductions on the trunk line, “theft points identification as well as illegal refineries, and corroborated by several Joint Investigative visits constituted by various regulatory bodies and the applicable host community, Nigeria has experienced loss of production and revenue that should have accrued to the country.”
Aiteo said third party interference with the line “has often resulted in oil leaks, which ultimately culminate in shutting down the NCTL to undertake emergency repairs,: adding: “This in itself has resulted in the NCTL being shut down for about 145 days and an approximate deferment of 50.386 million barrels of Crude Oil (net) for the six injectors into the NCTL since Aiteo took over the operatorship of the trunk line in September 2015.”
It stated that on May 1, 2018, “there were a total of 24 illegal bunkering points identified along the NCTL, revealing: “Aiteo has successfully repaired nine of these illegal bunkering points during May 2018 at a huge cost to the company. These illegal bunkering points also contribute to the huge losses on the volumes injected across the NCTL by the six OMLs and the volumes actually received at Bonny Terminal.”
Aiteo expressed concerned about the effect of oil production disruptions and the health and livelihood of people living in these areas, stating: “This tragic trajectory is not only condemnable, but inimical to human existence, in the long term.”
The company said instead of addressing allegations directed at him, Admiral Suleiman “opted, unwisely to allege that Mr. Peters supposedly supported the protest because he is ‘trying to hide something.’”
It said such utterances “personalises and trivilialises a matter of grave national concern in an incomprehensibly absurd manner,” adding: “Aiteo and others with proprietary interest in the pipeline are the hitherto unmitigated victims”
Aiteo said Nigeria cannot afford to remain passive “as our sovereign wealth is being aggressively pilfered, aided by indifference on the part of relevant stakeholders,” adding “These activities are highly injurious to the economy of a country vacillating between recession and the fringes of economic stability.”