Oil minister flags off OML 25, says FG will not leave Kula in the cold


NNPC, Shell, Belemaoil assure of smooth take off

By Codratus Godson

The troubled Kula oil field (Oil Mining Lease 25) was re-flagged off at noon on Saturday, September 28, 2019, by the minister of state for petroleum, Bayelsa-born Timipri Sylva, who led what was described as the highest industry delegation to any host community in recent history.

OML 25 which produces between 35,000 and 40,000bpd had recorded $1.7Bn loss over the shut down, according to government officials at the event. Industry sources said by the Saturday event, joint inspection visit would take place, confirmation of exit of siece would be done, inventory would be taken and facility testing would begin, before a decision would be taken to resume pumping of oil and gas.

The resolution of the explosive crisis took place in Abuja two weeks back and what was termed win-win resolution took place whereby Shell’s rights as license holder and JV operator was reaffirmed, Belemaoil was accepted as maintenance rights holder while rights of the host communities were agreed upon with both Shell and Belemaoil as joint development partners for the communities.

The minister cut the tape at Belema town where the flow station is located. By the action, he said he expected operations to resume in the 35,000bpd oil field which also has gas and is the nerve for all the oil and gas gathered in Bayelsa and eastern Rivers State heading to Bonny export terminal and other gas centres.

The flag-off was witnessed by the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kolo Kyari; the managing director of Shell, Osagie Okunbor; the founder/president of Belemaoil, Jack-Rich Tein Jnr; top political leaders including the deputy senate president (who was represented), top army officers from Army, Navy to Air Force, and other top industry players.

The minister, a former governor in Bayelsa State, later addressed the communities at the Kula centre (Anglican Church field) where he assured that the federal government would not let Kula down or allow them to walk alone.

Saluting them as Ijaw heroes, he said it was historic that the topmost industry policy makers have paid a visit to a host community in the Niger Delta at the same time. “This is history. We have listened to the community in Belema town.”

He went on: “I have told the monarchs and chiefs that we need peace, we need development. This is a time to develop, not to fight. We need to change strategy. If there is no peace, investors will not come. Investors are waiting to move into the Niger Delta but peace is what they are waiting for.”

Adding his voice at the square, the NNPC boss said; “Peace is our objective at the moment. There has been two years of fighting, and there is need for peace. Mr President salutes you but wants you to know that there is need to restore peace to allow other things to follow”.

The managing director of Shell, Osagie Osunbor, expressed gladness over the eventual return of reason, peace and dialogue, and thanked all those who helped in the process.

The Belemaoil founder, Tein Jnr, who addressed the Belema women (who held the flow station hostage for over two years) said the agitation has ended and that assessment of the facilities would begin.

He told the women that their outcry had reached the highest authorities and that President Muhammadu Buhari has made it possible for Belemaoil to bring development to the Niger Delta communities and other regions.

He made a striking remark, saying the Kula situation had proved that when host communities are angry, oil industry suffers setback; but when they are happy, oil industry grows. “This visit is the first of its kind in any oil community. You can see that the kings, kings, youths, women, everybody is happy. See jubilation, because they see hope. They see jobs coming.”

The king of Kula kingdom, Kroma Amabibi Eleki, conferred a traditional title of Amabelemabo (lover of Kula people) on the minister, Sylva, saying the people appreciated his quick action that helped to resolve the lingering crisis.