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Niger Delta: Furore Over Sale Of Shell Assets

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SAN FRANCISCO, February 13, (THEWILL) -  The Niger Delta communities in which Shell's operations are located have protested the way and manner in which its oil bloc and other assets were sold to the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) with no recourse to the communities that bear the brunt of its oil exploration activities. 

It would be recalled that protests and petitions have  followed the acquisition by NPDC of the   assets of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in the area.

The communities are alleging that  NPDC's mode of operation appears to be anti-people and  and against the spirit of community development.

Only few weeks back, some Isoko communities took the battle to the door steps of SPDC flowstation and shut down the station over what they described as unsettled  issues.

The protests followed the collapse of talks between the oil-producing areas and officials of Shoreline Natural Resources Ltd and First Hydro Carbon Ltd, represented by NPDC, which bought 45 per cent equity stake of Shell, Total and Agip, OML 30 and OML 26, allegedly without due and prior consultation with the various communities that are stakeholders in Isoko land.

It could be recalled however that NDPC and Shell officials had met with some Isoko stakeholders last weekend in Effurun to explain why the Anglo-Dutch multinational was transferring its equity share in the joint venture to the new firms.

A senior Shell official, Mr. Akpomudjere Edesiri, had explained that the company’s decision to sell facilities in OML 30 was a strategic move to streamline its operations as is the situation elsewhere in the world since the company, according to him, operates in over 170 countries.

 An Ijaw speaking community in Warri South-West Council Area of the state has also taking   NPDC up, saying since it acquired concessionary rights over the Batan oil field, there has been a calculated attempt   to take the entire community back to the woods.

They said since NPDC took over from SPDC in 2012, it has refused every attempt to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with their community.

The Ijaws of Diebiri-Batan  said despite the numerous correspondence to the oil firm in this regard, NPDC has failed to disclose  any package for the people in the area of developmental projects, employment, skill acquisition and scholarship.

The community said  the most worrisome part is that the oil company has  continued to pollute their environment with noxious crude oil, spilling over 200 barrels without clean-up, remediation as well as compensation to them.

In a protest letter jointly signed by their Chairman, Alex Ebi Fenimine, Secretary Alex Misoro and Public Relation Officer, Emmanuel Igetei, the community  said that sometimes in July, 2012, NPDC allowed its oil to spill over their water, fish ponds, mangrove as well as venerable places but has refused with impunity to clean-up the environment and pay compensation.

Consequently, the community warned that their patience has been stretched to a breaking point where they would no longer be able to hold their youths from formenting  trouble over the vexed  issues.

They have therefore given a 14-days ultimatum to NPDC to do the needful or be ready for a show down.

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