TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
Host communities of Oil Mining Lease (OML) 17 in Rivers State, have threatened to disrupt oil and gas operations in their areas, if the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), goes ahead with its alleged plans to divest the oil bloc.
Some representatives of the host communities made the threat when they spoke in Port Harcourt, at the weekend.
A community leader and member of the media team of the host communities, Loveday Okere, said any divestment without their inputs would amount to efforts in futility.
Okere said the OML 17 host communities were surprised at the plan by Federal Government and the oil firm to divest the oil bloc which is owned by four local government areas without their knowledge.
He said: “That foundational error that people made in the 1950s can never repeat itself. The news of divestment of OML 17 is a surprise to us”.
According to the community leader, the plot to divest the oil bloc is targeted at impoverishing the host communities.
Also, the General Coordinator of OML 17 host communities, Daniel Njoku, said the oil bloc has been operated by the multinational for about six decades.
Njoku said: “SPDC started operation in OML 17 since 1961. The host communities are as underdeveloped, and as old as since 1961, which is over 59 years, suffering general pollution”.
He stated that, in spite of this underdevelopment, the company enjoys relative peace from the host communities.
“Today, it wants to divest the shares to another company without the knowledge of host communities”.
The head of legal of the host communities, Paul Nwakola, said it is illegal for Federal Government to unilerally grant lease for divestment ignoring the landlords.
Owners of the OML 17 comprise communities in Ikwerre, Obio/Akpor, Etche and Oyigbo Local Government Areas of the the state.