From Simon Utebor, Yenagoa
Communities hosting Shell Petroleum Development Company’s oilfields in the Estuaries Area (EA) of Bayelsa State have given the firm 21 days to pay its debt and meet other obligations or face a shutdown of the oil fields.
The communities – Iduwini, Mein, Kou, and Bassan, making up four Cluster Development Boards (CDBs), are funded by Shell.
Shell, they said, must raise its annual development funding to them from $1 million to $10 million and meet other social obligations.
They demanded the payment of outstanding $14 million for sea anchorage for the company’s vessels.
According to the communities, the amount, which accrued from 2006 till date, must be paid in 21 days or they would protest at Shell’s EA oilfields in Bayelsa.
The communities, at a news conference in Yenagoa, said the oil firm was marginalising them.
Wuka Brisibe, who chairs the Community Development Committee (CDC) in Ekeni, speaking for the hosts, regretted that development had eluded the coastal settlements their Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) with Shell.
He said ‘’one million dollars irregularly paid to the four CDBs, covering 12 host communities… as GMOU funds, is inadequate. Each host receives approximately $83,333, which upon conversion at…N450 per dollar is N37.4 million…’’
“Our people cannot bear the brunt of years of oil and gas exploration and exploitation and not benefit from contracts, supplies and services provided for the operations of the said facilities. We are displeased with the disposition of the SPDC in awarding vessels, services and supplies contracts envisaged within the local community content to non-natives and their companies who are members of staff of SPDC or their cronies.
“This is done in disregard for the capacity and capability of indigenes of host communities to provide the said services or execute such contracts. We condemn SPDC’s attitude of non-compliance with the local community content policy and practice against its hosts at EA oil fields in Bayelsa.
“We call for a review of the GMOU to limit interference by Shell officials in determining the pace of the GMOU, especially concerning remuneration of contractors upon completion of contracts or milestones.”
But SPDC said its official contribution to the development of host communities in Bayelsa was over N23 billion.
General Manager of External Relations Igo Weli said Shell’s GMoU allowed the people to choose projects, while the company provided funding and mentoring.
On the review of the $1 million, SPDC’s Media Relations Manager Bamidele Odugbesan said he would look at the issues before responding.
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