Ben Dunno, Warri
Asset Management Team (AMT) of Oil Mining Lease (OML) 34, Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), its business partner, Niger Delta (ND) Western, has decried the level of environmental degradation caused by the activities of oil thieves in the region.
The Manager, Government, Community Relations and Security, under the AMT, Mr. Sheidu Aighedo, raised this fresh alarm in Warri on Wednesday while speaking on behalf of the Chief Operating Officer, NPDC/NDW OML34 AMT, Chief Edirin Abamwa, during an interactive media session.
Although not ruling out claims of conspiracy between indigenes, security agencies and the cartel behind these criminal acts, Aighedo noted that the health hazards posed to the lives of the locals due to these acts remained a major concern.
He stated that it was more annoying and irresponsible for the indigenes to claim that outsiders were the ones perpetrating the legalities in their communities, wondering why they would ever allow strangers to come and carry out such devastating acts on their land.
According to him, “have you ever seen or witnessed a situation when these criminals are siphoning crude from pipelines? They waste greater percentage of the crude into the environment in the cause of trying to clamp valves and pipes and this end up destroying the aquatic lives in such areas.
“We are aware that in most cases there’s always a conspiracy between the indigenes and those who carry out this legalities but its worrisome that some community leaders and youths could allow such huge destruction of their environment by these criminals.
“It is their future they are destroying the more at the end of the day. Yes, the company might be effected interms commercial gains as a result of shortages in crude but the indigenes future in terms of dangers posed to their health and environment is more grievous”, he stated.
While dismissing the claim of an insider collaborations with the cartel, he stated that the oil company spends over a billion naira on yearly basis to curtail oil theft through the pipeline surveillance contracts awarded to indigenous firms.
He explained that the company’s commitment to the local content policy for pipeline surveillance contract was borne out of the desire to encourage local firms that have built capacity over the years in that field.
The manager said that the company was currently looking at technology to enhance pipeline surveillance, including the use of surveillance drones to curb the menace across the region.
Speaking further, Aighedo pointed out that government can achieve so much if it collaborates with other stakeholders in the sector to adopt the three punitive measures of prevention, protection and prosecution.
On the company’s GMoU agreement with host communities, Aighedo noted that all issues concerning its operations including inherited liabilities from Shell and three years arrears of N1.3 billion to contractors had been cleared.
He noted that the GMoU inherited from Shell, which earmarked yearly payment of N106 million for 34 impacted communities, had since expired, adding that a new “steady state GMoU” was currently running with annual payment rate of N250 million for 27 communities.
The manager disclosed further that out of the 34 communities that made up OML 34 where their asset were, 27 communities were the core oil producing communities where drilling and exploration were taking place.
Aighedo said that the company runs a JV account with representatives of the host communities from where several projects are awarded and executed depending on the choice of communities.
In terms of human capital development and social investment, he stated the company had long overhauled inherited Shell scholarships programme which was based on competition to a more robust initiative in which every school in the host communities is a beneficiary.
He pointed out that the least community gets four secondary school scholarship yearly, one university scholarship whilst the major host communities get 12 for secondary school and four tertiary yearly.
In total, he said that 285 tertiary institution students are on scholarships at the rate of N75, 000 per session while in the secondary category about 1,275 at the rate of N25, 000 per session are on scholarships.