NNPC to resume operations in Ogoni after 30 years

…Court delivers judgment in its favour

THE Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) will resume operations in Ogoni, Niger Delta, after a court in Abuja delivered a judgment in its favour.

This came after 30 years of a legal tussle with Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) over the entitlement to a renewal of the lease on OML 11.

The court said the NNPC was right to take away the lease from SPDC and hand it over to its subsidiary.

The NNPC hailed the Appeal Court judgment affirming its operatorship of the Oil Mining License 11 (OML 11), describing it as a huge victory for Nigeria and the beginning of addressing decades of host communities’ restiveness.  

The Appeal Court sitting in Abuja on Monday upturned the August 23, 2019 ruling of the Federal High Court, Abuja, which held that SPDC was entitled to the renewal of the lease on OML 11.

In the ruling, the appellate court held that the minister of petroleum resources had the discretion to decide whether or not to renew the OML 11 Lease in favour of SPDC.

The court further held that the minister rightly exercised his discretion in awarding the OML 11 Lease to NPDC, a subsidiary of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

The Group General Manager in charge of Public Affairs Division of the NNPC Garba Deen Muhammad quoted the NNPC Group Managing Director  Mele Kyari as saying that the ruling had paved the way for the NPDC to lead a formidable OML 11 team towards bolstering productivity in a responsible, efficient, environmentally friendly, and sustainable manner.

Accordingly, resumption of operations on OML 11 would demonstrate the NPDC’s full commitment to developing and adding value to communities and the nation as a whole, Kyari was quoted as saying.

“We now have an opportunity to reconstruct a new beginning on OML 11, driven by global best practices and a social contract that would put the people and environment of the Niger Delta above pecuniary considerations.

“This is a huge victory for the government and people of Nigeria as we now have the impetus to responsibly unlock the oil and gas reserves the block offers for the benefit of all Nigerians, Kyari stated.

The statement further said that the NPDC had taken over the assets and operations in full gear, adding that the company was working closely with all stakeholders and partners to achieve the new vision of ‘responsible, smart engineering and environmental sustainability,’ which the Federal Government had endorsed for OML 11.

The NNPC GMD stated that the NPDC would pursue the promotion of clean energy via its gas production with prospects of gas-to-power initiatives to ‘light up opportunities in the region’ and provide the much-deserved industrialisation.

The statement noted that the environment would be a top priority for NPDC’s operations and help to implement a robust host community engagement strategy to address subsisting issues while agreeing to a transparent engagement model, going forward.

The NNPC cautioned against any further legal challenge by the SPDC, stressing that it was about time Nigeria derived the benefit of the OML11 after over three decades.

“It is time to roll back the decades of despair and destruction with the emphatic Appeal Court ruling. It is time to unlock opportunities for economic development in the region.

“In the light of their inability to work on the Ogoni region of the block for over 30 years and the new beginning this judgement presents, further legal action by Shell will not only be futile, but it would also be depriving Nigeria of an opportunity to make meaningful gains from OML 11 when the nation needs all the revenue it can get to move Nigeria forward,” the GMD said.

Restiveness in host communities has been one of the major factors hindering progress in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta.

Already, key representatives from the region have already hinted that the region would not subscribe to a three per cent allocation for host communities enshrined in the newly-signed Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), citing concerns of environmental degradations and neglect suffered by the communities in the recent past.

The ICIR reported that President of Ijaw National Congress Benjamin Okaba had hinted that the group would be exploring  legal action, describing the three per cent slated for the host communities in the PIA as paltry.






     

     

    “We are exploring options and possibly one of them is a legal option on the issue of three per cent host community fund.”

    Analysts say the government must tread cautiously with concerns of the host communities to avoid the repetition of incidences of pipeline vandalisation and restiveness in the region.

    Already the Senate President Ahmed Lawan has hinted at the possibility of amendment of the PIA amid growing concerns in some specific areas.

    “We would be more than ever willing to work with the government to get an Act that works for us, as we enter into a new era with the PIA. Everything won’t happen immediately, but we would work with the government,” Chairman of the Major Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN Adetunji Oyebanji told THE ICIR.

    Harrison Edeh is a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, always determined to drive advocacy for good governance through holding public officials and businesses accountable.

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