Fred Itua, Abuja
Moves to recognise Kogi as an oil producing state, yesterday suffered a blow as the Senate shot down a motion seeking Federal Government’s approval to that effect.
Rejecting the move, the Senate called on the governors of Anambra, Enugu and Kogi states to reconcile warring communities over boundaries dispute in their various domain.
The decision by the Senate to reject the classification followed a motion by Isaac Alfa, seeking to recognise Kogi as oil producing State. The Red Chamber which called on the lawmaker to withdraw the motion, urged the Federal Government to direct the National Boundary Commission to immediately release its report on the determination of the boundaries of communities contiguous to OPLs 915 and 916, while charging it to delineate the correct boundaries.
Leading debate on the motion that was rejected, Alfa established that oil exploration commenced in Ibaji as far back as 1952 in Odeke, Echeno, Ihile, Anocha/ Uchuchu, Omabo, Ikah, Iregwu and Ujeh villages all in Ibaji community of the present day Ibaji Local Government Area of Kogi State by three oil companies namely; Shell BP (now SPDC), Elf (now Total Fina Elf) and AGIF Energy.
He added that the companies collectively drilled 25 exploration wells, two appraisal wells and eight core drill wells in the entire Anambra Basin out of which majority of the wells fall within Kogi State as these facts were made possible through a letter to the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria by the former Manager, Drilling (NPDC- NNPC), Sam Uchola, dated November 21, 2003.
He explained that exploration of oil activities on Kogi State and part of Anambra basin was later abandoned until July 18, 2001, when the governor of Kogi Stats, late Abubakar Audu, wrote to the Group Managing Director of NNPC to remind him of earlier discovery of crude oil at Odeke, Echeno, and Anocha communities in Abaji Local Government of Kogi State.
The lawmaker said: “Recall that on July 25, 2001, a team of Geo- Scientist/ Engineers was drafted to the area to carry out preliminary investigation on the claims of Kogi State and the resuscitation of these productive core wells in the area among other areas prompted the granting of an Oil License, now known as Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 915 and 916 to an indigenous company known as Orient Petroleum Resources Plc.
“Concerned that Orient Petroleum Resources Plc has been taking Crude Oil from OPL 915 since 2012 till date and the percentages of crude oil in the OPL 915 among the three contesting states are as follows: Kogi State 53 per cent, Anambra 23 per cent , Enugu 17per cent and Edo 7per cent. Regrets that there has been no drifting activity from the OPL 916 which jointly belongs to Kogi, Anambra and Delta States while Orient Petroleum has fully drilled 4 oil wells at OPL 915 (wells 1,2,3 and 4) with wells 3 and 4 incontrovertibly located in Ibaji in Kogi State accounting for 53 per cent of the Crude oil.
“Consequent upon this, Orient Petroleum Resources made three offers to Kogi State Government when the company arrived on the scene for exploration activities which recommend that; the Kogi State Government should appoint a Liaison Officer to act as intermediary between the government and the company, that the Government of Kogi should allocate a land to her to use as her depot; and that the Government of Kogi State should buy a share of at least N500,000,000 in the company but the company has not taken up the shares.”
He was worried that since granting of the Prospecting license to Orient Petroleum Resources, there has been increased tension between and among the communities that have any direct or tangible contiguity with the location of the oil wells. All the lawmakers who contributed to the motion, called on Alfa to withdraw it, as a committee in the Senate was already looking at the development, which the lawmaker categorically said he would not.