Kula and OML 25 dangerous tones

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* Bourdillon community faction: No going back on war against Shell

* Rivers State Govt, Opusingi faction: Deal has been reached

By Codratus Godson

Kula community is going like the Ogoni of 1993. It has divided into normals and vultures. Every day, two different account must emerge. One is that no going back on siege of Oil Mining License 25; the other is that negotiation is going on well. Belemaoil and King Bourdillon Ekine, Oko 28th, are on one side; Shell, the Rivers State Government, and King Hope Opusingi seem to be on the other side.

Pro-Belema side

Trouble seems to brew in Kula, close to the Atlantic Ocean, over the renewal and operational rights of the 40-year-old Oil Mining License 25 in Akuku-Toru local council area of Rivers State. This is because the leaders of the three host communities have pointedly turned down appeals by the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, to resume operations.

OML 25 has been occupied by protesting women from Kula for almost two years but the federal government renewed the license by Shell in October 2019 to the chagrin of the Kula people.

The governor had last Saturday, June 22, 2019, ordered that all groups in the dispute to sit down and table all matters and seek amicable resolution so as to allow operations to resume.  The governor had said all tiers of government were losing revenue (which oil industry sources put at N700Bn by March 2019.

A meeting fixed for Tuesday, June 25, 2019, at the Hotel Presidential, however did not hold, but a spokesman for the community, Fiala Okoye-Davis, said in a press conference that “The leaders were already seated waiting for the arrival of the Rivers State Government officials only for some leaders in the host communities to be served with writ of summons by one Ibinabo Harry also known as Kala Oruye”. The meeting arrangement thus broke down and a hard stance emerged from the Kula leaders.

Addressing the crowded press conference at the Atlantic Hall of the Hotel Presidential, the leaders said they were shocked to sit for over three hours without Gov Wike or any representative to address them.

At this point, the Kula leaders, one by one, demanded that Shell should leave Kula and hand over to Belemaoil, owned by a son of the community.

They said they had resolved that Shell who had won back the license must divest to Belemaoil, saying the women occupying the oilfield would remain there for as long as it would take.

The spokesman of the community, reading a prepared address, accused Shell of using a particular political party and the chairman of the local council to forcefully invade Kula. They interpreted the one week ultimatum to be a prelude to a military crackdown and warned that violence would follow any such move.

He said: “We remain resolute, we remain united, and we remain committed to the dream of economic liberalization, education of our youth, and emancipation from the shackles of slave masters who have destroyed all our aquatic livelihood with their oil pollution and wanting to sell their assets and hand us over to an unknown new slave master.”

They revealed the crux of the matter and pinned it on what they said was a plan by Shell to divest and hand over to an oil company (name withheld) instead of to Belemaoil, their son.

They rejected any further meeting in Port Harcourt on the matter but in Kula, should Gov Wike be interested in negotiations but insisted that it is the federal government and the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that would have to lead in any further discussions.

They hinted at anger over the role played by the former Petroleum Minister who they said went behind to issue renewal license to Shell on OML 25 after listening to the Kula case, and that the whole area may explode.

hey said the Rivers State government remained silent all the years that Shell was flouting agreements on OML 25, but Shell said there is N960m in an account waiting to be used.

Another chief, Ibidsiya Nath-Sukubo, whipping up chants and emotions, amidst shouts from a large crowd, said the Kula people were angry that the oil giant decided to buy back the right after the plan to sell to another oil company failed to materialize.

A Kula chief and leader, Anabs Sara-Igbe, said the matter would not get ahead except Shell comes down to Kula and point out the projects they executed over the years with the said $300m.

The protest planned by the community youths up to Garrison area was stopped when police vans drove into the hotel and stern looking policemen took up positions. The youths decided to display their placards right inside the hotel.

It is not clear what would happen at the expiry of the seven day ultimatum issued by Gov Wike for oil to resume in Kula as the community women have been told never to vacate the oil field. The Rivers State government is yet to respond on the latest development as further meetings may not hold.

The Kula leaders have continued to insist on meeting with the FG through the NNPC and not with any other authorities within the state.

Rivers Govt side

OML 25: Shell, Stakeholder Communities to sign M.O.U on the re-opening of the flow station 

Stakeholder communities of  Oil Mining License (OML) 25 in Akuku-Toru  Local Government Area of Rivers State  and Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) have agreed  on the procedures  for the re-opening  of the oil facility.

As such, the Stakeholders communities and Shell will on Monday,  July 1, 2019 sign a Memorandum of Understanding (M.O.U.)  to be facilitated by the Rivers State Government on their respective responsibilities  in the final resolution of the conflict.

This was the outcome of the meeting  on Thursday  between Stakeholder Communities of OML 25, SPDC, Service Commanders and   officials of the Rivers State Government on the directive of Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike.

Representative of the Rivers State Governor and  Secretary to the Rivers State Government,  Dr Tammy Danagogo directed the Solicitor-General of the State to draft a memorandum of understanding on the premise  of the resolutions  reached  at the meeting.  He said that the memorandum of  understanding would be signed on Monday, July 1, 2019.

Danagogo  outlined the four key resolutions  reached during the crucial  meeting on the re-opening  of OML 25.

He said: “SPDC should pay the agreed funds into an account.  The Permanent Secretary,  Community Affairs has been mandated to ensure that the funds are transferred  to the communities.

“SPDC should be able to pay the available  sum latest by Monday. Shell would pay N260million and N75million by Monday.

“The communities should within 7 days of signing the resolution,  vacate the facility.  Also within two weeks, Shell  should pay the remaining part of N1.014billion (One Billion,  fourteen million naira)”.

The Secretary to the Rivers State Government added that the meeting resolved that SPDC  would therefore obtain approval  from NAPIMS to pay the money that accrued between  2009 and 2013.

He added that within two weeks of signing  the resolution, Rivers State Government will set up a platform for Shell and Stakeholder Communities to renegotiate the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMOU).

General Manager,  External Relations of Shell Petroleum Development Company, Mr Igo Weli said the first set of funds to the stakeholder communities will be paid on Monday.

He stressed  that the outcome of the financial reconciliations  will be paid within two weeks of signing the resolution.

Igo Weli added SPDC in line with the resolution of the meeting ,  seek the approval  of NAPIMs for payment of funds for 2009 and 2013.

Chairman of Akuku-Toru Local Government Area, Rowland Sekibo said that the meeting  initiated by the Rivers State Governor has recorded a milestone with agreement  on the funds to be paid by SPDC.

Member of the Rivers State House of Assembly Representing Akuku-Toru Constituency 1, Major Jack commended the Rivers State Government,  SPDC and Stakeholder Communities for building synergy which will end  in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Monday.

Amanyanabo of Opu-Kula,  King Hope Opusingi said that the people of the area are happy with the agreement reached at the meeting,  especially  the reconciliation  of the funds to be paid  by SPDC.

He said those occupying the flow station are being paid to do so. He said technically, the flow station  has been opened as the occupants of the facility are doing so illegally.

Also speaking,  the Amanyanabo of Kula, King Kroma Eleki called for the development  of Kula upon  the reopening  of OML 25. He said the developmental  challenges of the community  should be  resolved.

It  will recalled  that Rivers State Governor,  Nyesom Ezenwo Wike  on June 22, 2019 directed the Secretary to the Rivers State Government,  Dr Tammy Danagogo to convene a meeting of all key stakeholders in the presence of Security Service Commanders , for the host communities to outline their grievances to  Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and for the company  to address such development concerns.

Give mediation a chance – Shell

By Gladys Nweke

The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, SPDC, has called on all stakeholders in Belema flow station and gas plant in OML 25, to give the Rivers State Government-led mediation process, the needed chance for a peaceful resolution.

The Belema flow station is which located in Kula in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State, which produces 45,000bpd has been under shut down since August, 2017 by indigenes of Kula community and the environ over alleged neglect of the communities by Shell.

Meanwhile, SPDC had shut down its operation in the flow station and all the OML 25, to avert the occupants from the facility’s high pressured oil and gas plant. This is 2 years that the host communities shutdown the flow station, it has caused a set back for the Federal Govt, State and Local Government to lose about N700 billion in revenue.

At the same vein, the Governor of Rivers State at weekend intervened in the matter and directed all the parties involved for the shutdown of the oil facility, to resolve all the issues and open the flow station within seven days.

The Governor also directed the Secretary to the Rivers State Government, Dr. Tammy Danagogo, as matter of urgency, convened a meeting of all stakeholders including security Chiefs, for the host communities to ear their grievances to SPDC and, for the company to outline their plight.

On his part, Mr Micheal Akande who reacted to the governor’s directive, noted that the management of SPDC has decried that Nigeria’s economy has been denied so much revenue due to the two years closure of the facility.

Michael Akande who also is the Spokesperson of Shell, in his part, stressed that the company is ready to resolving all issues in order to resume operations in the facility.

According to the spokesperson, he said, SPDC is ready for peaceful resolution of all kinds to enable us to resume safe operations of  Belema oil and gas facility.

Stressing that the Nation’s economy has been denied huge revenue for past two years that our facility was shut down and illegally occupied by the host communities.

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