Kula chiefs accuse Shell of stalling OML 25 re-entry processes

From (R-L) are Traditional Ruler, Chiefs and members of Belema, Offoin-Ama and Ingeje Host Communities of OML-25 Flow Station in Rivers State, Chief Evans Dabiri, Chief Anabs Sara-Igbe, Chief Barr. W.A Ebejiye-Gaga, Chief Ibinabo Daniel Kiliya, HRH King Bourdillon Allen Ekine, Oko XXVIII, Amanyanabo of Opukula (Old Shipping) and Secretary Kula Supreme Council of Traditional Rulers, Alabo Engr. Fiala Okoye-Davies, Chief Ted Fenibo and Comrade Jonah F. Joshua during a Press Conference in Port-Harcourt.

* As Nigeria loses N1.4 trillion as OML 25 not yet operational

* Sources however say SPDC is working with laid down structure, can’t sabotage its own re-entry plan

By Codratus Godson

A group of chiefs in Kula town have accused Shell of stalling in implementing the re-entry processes in Oil Mining License (OML) 25. The group said the actions of Shell have delayed the re-entry almost one year after.


Nigeria may have lost N1.4 trillion in the Kula oilfield near the Atlantic Ocean in Rivers State as the controversy-riddled Oil Mining Lease 25 is brewing with fresh disquiet that may lead to another round of crisis.

A group in Kula, Akuku-Toru local council area of Rivers State, has already accused Shell of refusing to implement laid down re-entry programmes and engage with the right community structure.

Some splinter community sources however denied such charges on behalf of Shell, saying the oil major was keen to re-enter the oil field and cannot afford to sabotage its own desired re-entry processes.

A group of chiefs who said they were speaking on behalf of Kula Kingdom and the OML-25 communities led by a chief and engineer, Fiala Okoye-Davies, told newsmen in Port Harcourt that Shell chose to relate with the wrong people and refused to carry out specifically laid down programmes that were stated by the stakeholders to make re-entry smooth.

The team that addressed the press included His Royal Highness, K.N Sukubo; His Highness, Ibinbo Daniel Kiliya; a chief, Ibiosiya Isaiah Nath Sukubo; and a prince and lawyer, Opunabo Bourdilon Ekine, who called themselves as the ‘stakeholders leadership’.

 By first year of the occupation of the platform by Kula women, Nigeria was said to lose  N700Bn in the Kula field. Kula field is said to be host to 200 oil wells of about 150bpd.

OML 25 is located 50 kilometres southwest of Port Harcourt in the onshore eastern delta and is part of the NNPC/Shell Joint Venture (JV). The block is located on the coastal mangrove swamp and extends slightly offshore. It is intersected by the Santa Barbara and San Bartholomeo rivers, which are large deltaic tidal channels that enter the Gulf of Guinea.

Shell had attempted to sell the oilfield for $500m to Crestar but this was stopped by Federal High Court in Lagos. Belemaoil (with community backing) later tried to acquire it from Shell but this too was stalled until a truce was called in September 2019 where Belemaoil was awarded operational rights while Shell retained ownership.

Now, the Kula chiefs told newsmen that the intention of Shell to deal with the wrong persons became obvious in a circular for meeting soon after the signing of peace agreement to be held at the office of the secretary to the Rivers State Government on October 24, 2019. The group said they strongly disassociated the community from such a meeting.

They said: “We are also aware that the trio of the NNPC, SPDC, and BPL (Belemaoil) have had several meetings in a bid to resolve the issues that led to the face-off between SPDC and the host communities. It is interesting that while our position regarding our confidence in the FG to resolve the issues remains sacrosanct, we are minded to warn against various tactics and antics of the SPDC to cause confusion and crisis again in our peaceful Kula kingdom.”

The chiefs called to the FG and the security agencies to prevail on Shell to desist from whatever alliance it has had with some persons they described as renegades of Kula kingdom. They appealed to the FG to make Shell conclude the discussion with the FG and Belemaoil on behalf of the communities for re-entry of OML 25.

They said the public call became expedient in the alleged wake of several antics being deployed by the SPDC in a bid to delay and frustrate the process of re-opening of facility, all in their alleged bid to raise and arm their own counter renegade groups.

Asked to name specifically what Shell did wrong, the spokesman said the oil major was refusing to execute those named programmes agreed on as re-entry projects, and also chose to engage with the wrong group.

Also asked if it is not the NNPC that would drive the re-entry process on behalf of the Federal Government, the spokesman said it was Shell and the NNPC. He however called on all the stakeholders to persuade Shell to return to the re-entry plans.

Shell spokesmen declined comment but a source in Kula said SPDC was dealing with the structure of engagement set up by the stakeholders which is also being used by the FG and NNPC to implement the re-entry programmes.

The source said Shell and Nigeria have so much and wondered how same Shell would be deliberately delaying the re-entry plans.

A source in government urged the community to unite and engage the IOCs and FG with one voice.