Feb 22, 2013

Ogoni: Opposition To Oil Production Commencement

Ogoni community members continue to oppose oil production commencement until the government takes the necessary steps to clean the region. 

Below is an article published by This Day Live:

Moves by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to resume oil production from 30 oil fields belonging to Shell Petroleum Development and Production Company (SPDC) in Ogoniland have suffered a setback as Ogoni people have opposed the re-entry plan over Federal Government’s delay in implementation of the United Nation’s Environmental Programme (UNEP) report on oil pollution in their environment.

THISDAY gathered that the Ogoni people were firmly against the re-entry plan on grounds that neither the Federal Government nor Shell had responded to the recommendations in the report, almost two years after. They were said to have insisted that neither the NPDC nor any company for that matter would be allowed to produce oil in their land, until after a proper cleanup of their environment. UNEP had in the report noted that Ogoni would need the world's largest ever oil cleanup, which could take up to 30 years to complete.

Commenting of the re-entry move, NNPC’s Group Executive Director (GED) in charge of Exploration and Production, Mr. Abiye Membere, told THISDAY at the weekend that it could take as much as 24 months before the NPDC could commence oil production in the oil-rich Ogoniland, because a lot of things needed to be put in place. He said aside that the Ogonis were saying “no cleanup, no production”, to bring the wells back on stream would take months, because they have been lying fallow for about 18 years.

“The place is just like ordinary ground, so building of the flowstations, pipelines, flowlines and other facilities would take some time”.

The SPDC abandoned the 30 prolific oil wells in the wake of the crisis that greeted the murder of former President of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), Ken Saro-Wiwa, in 1995. But the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) announced in January 2011, that its upstream arm, the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), would soon commence production from the 30 oil fields, in line with the company’s mandate to produce 250,000 barrels of crude oil per day in 2015.

The former Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mr. Austen Oniwon, who made the disclosure said production on the Ogoni fields would boost the NPDC asset and place it as a big player in the upstream sector. In 2008, the Federal Government had announced that the oil fields would be handed over to another operator acceptable by the Ogonis since there was a total loss of confidence between the Ogoni people and Shell. The pronouncement had pitched Shell against the Federal Government, as the oil giant was said to have insisted that it would not hands off those blocks to any operator, other than its Joint Venture partner.

The news of the NPDC’s planned commencement of exploration also elicited reactions from Ogoni indigenes who vowed to obstruct any such moves. Ogoni people, under the umbrella of National Union of Ogoni Students, USA, had vowed that neither Shell, NPDC nor NNPC would be allowed to operate in the area.

The students had also cautioned against the danger of back door negotiations with acclaimed stakeholders and the use of security forces to terrorise the people of Ogoni in order to start oil production.