27/01/2022

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OML 30: Host communities threaten to shut down company’s operation over alleged breach of trust

4 min read

…we adhered strictly to the tenets of our engagement with our hosts – Company

A brewing disagreement between the operators of the Oil Mining Lease (OML) 30; Heritage Energy Operational Services (HEOS) and its 111 host communities is threatening production in the nation’s largest oil field.

Expressing their dissatisfaction with alleged breach of agreements by the company at a press briefing in Ughelli, Delta state yesterday, leaders of the 111 host communities, under the aegis of the OML 30
Community Development Board (CDB), accused the company of introducing ‘the divide-and-rule’ tactics to create a crisis environment in the operation of the facilities.

Addressing journalists at the end of a meeting of the CDB and communities representatives committee, the chairman of the CDB, Hon Morris Idiovwa, alleged that the leaders of all the communities had observed that the company had started reneging on its side of the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) signed with the communities.

According to him, the leaders had cause to believe that the new development, which he said started towards the end of 2017, was a deliberate strategy to create a crisis situation in the area, a
pretext for the introduction of a consultant organization, a move which the communities have vowed to vehemently resist.

Idiovwa, who was in company of all the President-Generals and chairmen of the various clusters from the 111 communities, however warned that failure of the company to heed the warning against the introduction of non-government organizations and consultants would force community
actions, which would lead to the shutdown of oil operations in the largest facility.

“We have observed in our interaction that the OML 30 is at the brink of a crisis that could lead to the shutdown of operations in OML 30. It has come to the attention of OML 30 that the peaceful environment being enjoyed by the operators, Heritage Energy Operational Services,
is at the brink of a fall, therefore the leadership has come together and has taken a decision.

“We are aware that Heritage Energy Operational Services is planning to introduce an NGO and a consultant to take over the affairs of OML 30’s GMoU and community relations. The leadership of OML 30 has unanimously agreed that we do not want to deal with any consultant or any NGO, which will come to the assets to disrupt the peaceful process and operation we’ve been enjoying.

“Also, the leadership of OML 30 wants to categorically state that Academic Associate Peace Works (AAPW) is not welcomed into OML 30 to deal, with our communities as we are all ready to take over the GMoU as well as the community relations exercise of our communities. The leadership is competent and we are ready to deal with the company, Heritage Energy on issues bordering on community and GMoU affairs.

“We want to use this medium to appeal to the state government, the operators of these assets, the NPDC to call whichever NGO they are planning to introduce to OML 30 to withdraw them from the asset and tell Shoreline and AA Peace Works, to stay away with their consultant, otherwise, the communities have decided that any NGO or consultant, would be met with stiff resistance”, he said.

Some community leaders, who also spoke with journalists at the end of the meeting, include Chief James Obeowe, President-General of Oleh community; Joseph Ibuje, President-General of Oguname community; Victor Otumemene, President-General of Afiesere community.

They all aligned with the stance of the CDB, warning that attempt to sabotage the existing order of interaction between the company and communities would inevitably result into the shutdown of operations.

However, in a brief reaction to the communities’ stance, the General Manager of Heritage Energy Operational Services Limited (HEOSL), Celine Loader, said the company had in the past,  that it maintained a mutually beneficial relationship with its host communities and adhered to the GMoU, adding that issues raised by the CDB and the communities would be investigated and addressed.

“Heritage Energy Operational Services (HEOSL), the Operators of OML30, have in the last years of operations, nurtured and sustained peaceful and mutually beneficial relationships with all the OML30 Communities, working through the tenets of GMOU and its recognized governance structure, which is the Community Development Board (CDB).

“There have been some unfortunate delays to the GMOU Review process, but I cannot say that, that amounts to “HEOSL shirking its responsibilities” and I’m certain that any developments or allegations
of vested interests, working against the shared interests of the Joint Venture Partners and the Communities would be investigated and addressed in the appropriate manner”, Loader assured.

By Shina Badmus

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