IOCs Divestments From Onshore Assets: Ijaws Demand Clean Up

The Evangelist News edition, Saturday, January 20, 2024. By Arodiegwu Eziukwu

Stakeholders of the Ijaw nation have demanded that International Oil Companies (IOCs) divesting their oil assets should cleanup the polluted sites around the environments of their host communities in Ijaw land before moving out of the Niger Delta.

They also demanded that the local consortiums buying up the oil assets of the IOCs should move their corporate headquarters to the region.

They made their position known in a communique after a one-day dialogue organised by the Ijaw National Congress (INC) at its national headquarters in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, on Friday, with the theme, “The Imperative for Paradigm Shift”.

Ijaw people insisted that the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) was designed to deepen the underdevelopment of the area.

It will be recalled that Shell PLC UK on Monday announced that it had agreed to sell its Nigerian onshore oil assets to Renaissance, a consortium of four Nigerian companies and one foreign energy firm for $2.4 billion.

Shell, which had been operating in Nigeria for over 60 years, in a statement by its London office, said with the deal, its onshore subsidiary, the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC), will now be operated by ND Western, Aradel Energy, First E&P, Waltersmith, and Petrolin, a Swiss company.

Shell, however, stated that the completion of the deal was still subject to approval by the Federal Government of Nigeria.

On Thursday, the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, said it was not opposed to Shell’s sale of oil assets.

A statement signed by Nneamaka Okafor, the Special Adviser on Media and Communication to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), Heineken Lokpobiri, affirmed the government’s commitment to providing business-friendly environment in the country’s oil and gas industry.

Reading the communique to journalists, the President of INC, Prof Benjamin Okaba, noted that “Very soon, Ijaw territories would become private estates of these local investors with international connections.”

He said, “The Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) is anti-Ijaw in all ramifications. The NNPC has been privatised by the Federal Government, and the International Oil Companies (IOCs) are divesting their oil assets around Ijaw land with local consortiums buying up shares.

“However, before the IOCs are allowed to pull out they should be made to clean-up the environmental mess they have created. The new investors should relocate their headquarters to Ijaw territories where they have their oil facilities.”

Okaba said the Ijaw people would set up a think-tank to examine every aspect of their existence and provide strategic templates for the collective growth and development of Ijaw nation.

He added, “Despite contributing over 60 per cent to oil and gas production, which is the country’s main sources of economic survival, there are no major infrastructures across Ijaw land. For instance, the East-West Road that traverses Ijaw land is still deplorable and impassable, and several Ijaw communities remain inaccessible by road.

“Also, port facilities in Warri, Sapele, Port Harcourt, etc, that were hitherto economically viable are no longer in use. Proposed seaports at Agge and other towns in Ijaw territories are yet to exponentially impact the economic climate of Ijaw land. We also lack energy infrastructure and other drivers of social, economic and technological advancement.

“We are unhappy with lopsided political appointments at the federal level. We reject the deliberate balkanisation of Ijaw territories into minorities to deny us the socio-economic and political advantages that are associated with majority status. We are resolute on this.”

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