Nigeria: Victory at last for oil rich Belema community as multi-million dollars OML25 flow station reopens after 2 years shutdown
By Taiwo Adelu
London, Sep 30, 2019 (AltAfrica) – The dividend of when people come together in unity of purpose fight a common cause became manifest in Belema community, a riverine area of Rivers State, south-south Nigeria at the weekend.
The agitation spearheaded by youths and women of the community located in Kula Kingdom saw the shutdown of OML 25 flow station owned by oil giant, Shell Oil Producing Company two years ago and the facility remain shut despite all efforts to intimidate the people by official conspiracies.
The voice of the people, however, prevailed and the dialogue move of the elders of the community with the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) and Shell Oil saw the reopening of the facility for production on Saturday amidst pomp and pageantry
Alternativeafrica.com reports that the oil facility, which used to produce 35,000 barrels of oil per day, was shutdown by the Host Communities of Belema, Offoin-Ama and Ngeje on 11 August, 2017 in protest over unresolved issues with the Shell multinational company.
The issues ranging from unmitigated neglect, marginalization, impoverishment, enslavement, degradation of the environment by oil pollution were allegedly left unattended to by the oil giant.
Speaking, at the reopening ceremony of the facility on Saturday, President and Founder of Belemaoil Engr Jack-rich Tein Jr said that all issues that led to the closure of the flow station have been laid to rest.
“I can assure you that we have entered a new agreement and all your interests are captured in the negotiations to commence production ,” Jack-Rich told the delighted communities.
in his remark, Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, sue for peace among the communities in order to woo investors that will usher in jobs for the teeming youths.
“We just came to you that you are not alone, the federal government is with you. We will support you at every step of the way. We need unity in oil bearing communities as fighting will do us no good and now that federal government has started looking your way, it is time for us to change strategy and ensure that we begin to reap the benefits of investment in our communities.
“If we don’t make our communities peaceful. investment cannot come, the investors are ready to come here and without investors there’ll be no jobs for our youths. Unfortunately, in some cases there is no peace. It is our responsibility now to bring peace to our communities so that these investors can come and create the jobs,” Sylva said .
On his part, Mr. Mele Kari Group Managing Director, NNPC, said the reopening of the facility was a frontier to a better deal on social investments for the host communities.
“After two years of dispute and disagreement, we have found solution and this solution will enable people to go back to their work, employment opportunities will be created, social service that ought to come with these activities will be restored.
“We had a shutdown of the Belema flow station for over two years, leading to the loss of over 35,000 barrels of oil per day. Over $1.7bn which could have been put to use for the benefit of the community and the rest of the federation.”
“We have engaged the communities and Shell to make sure that this dispute between them is brought to an end. The communities have agreed to vacate the facility to allow petroleum operations to continue.”
Alternativeafrica.com understands that in the reopening negotiations, SPDC remains the leaseholder and operator of OML 25 while Belemaoil Company Limited will handle maintenance,employment and Surveillance of the facility.
Mr.Jack-Rich said Belema oil and Shell will jointly address the developmental and socio-economic needs of the Host Communities.
There was also a ground breaking of the Belemaoil Headquarters and commissioning of portable water scheme for the people of Kula Kingdom