Oil exploration to resume in Ogoni OML 11 in October


Neglecting strong resistance, crude oil production will commence in Ogoni area of OML 11, as the Presidency has recently directed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation/Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) to take over operations of the oil fields from Shell.

The Ogoni re-entry plan, which the Movement of the Survival of the Ogoni Peoples, activists and elders vowed to resist, will be funded from the proposed 2019 NNPC, Shell, Agip and Total joint venture budget.

An NPDC Ogoni re-entry execution plan and first cost summary obtained by The Guardian revealed that the Federal Government and its joint venture partners intend to commence crude oil and gas production in Korokoro in Ogoni area of OML 11 by October if the proposed contracting and procurement plan that has commenced are fast-tracked.

From Korokoro, the NPDC and its joint partners will then proceed to other communities such as Yorla, Ebubu, Bodo and Bomu, among others. The Ogoni fields were producing an average of 130,000 barrels of crude oil per day as at May 1993, when community resistance, led by MOSOP forced Shell and its joint partners to quit the area. Ogoni fields are estimated to have proven reserve of over two billion stock tank barrels.

NPDC has identified Bomu with 52 oil wells, Ebubu (17 wells), Tai (13 wells), Yorla (14 wells), Bodo West (12 wells) and Korokoro (10 wells) as major fields of interest.

In the strategic plan, the 15-page document revealed that Ogoni-re-entry will proceed in a field-by-field manner, and the field with the most receptive community will be re-entered first, as an incentive to other communities to accept the re-entry proposals.

Part of the palliatives planned by NPDC to gain acceptability is the construction of community access roads and well, as well as facilities access roads. Other measures are the provision of security booths, fencing, surveillance and grass cutting contracts, which will be ceded to community contractors.

The NPDC said due to security challenges in the Niger Delta, the mobilisation for the re-entry will be holistic, as it intends to engage the community through the Federal Government, with the assurance that crude oil production will be carried out in a responsible manner.

Ogoni elders, under the aegis of the Gbo Kaabari Ogoni, had petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari to halt planned resumption of crude oil and gas production in Ogoni without due consultation in order to avert a bloodbath in the area.

Gbo Kaabari Ogoni chairman and secretary, Senator Bennett Birabi and Dr. Desmond Nbete said government must bear in mind that oil activities in Ogoni and OML 11 have a unique history that cannot be wished away by an executive fiat for a restart of oil production and production activities, without duly engaging the people in a proper and painstaking conversation.

They said: “Production activities in OML 11 stopped about 29 years ago, and in line with industries practices, such fields like OML 11 ought to be treated as green fields and not brownfields. It is thus not acceptable to summarily commission an early production facility to start oil production, without necessary procedures and approvals for a greenfield development.”The group accused NPDC of acting contrary to the Department of Petroleum Resources guidelines, by not carrying an environmental impact assessment requirement for oil and gas field development.

Meanwhile, The Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, MOSOP, has vowed to resist the proposed re-entry into Ogoni Land.

MOSOP said in a statement that the proposed re-entry is disturbing considering the fact that the Federal Government has not attended to the needs of the people of Ogoniland.

MOSOP said: “MOSOP is particularly disturbed about this latest development and actions of the Government, considering its possible negative implications and the crisis it might cause among the people, in the communities and with the company involved.

” It is unfortunate and disappointing that rather than going through the proper and legitimate means and process, the government chooses to ignore the people of Ogoni and prefers to engage and impose an oil prospecting company on them, even with an intent to intimidate, suppress and kill the people more with the use of heavily armed security forces.

“As part of this plan, we are aware that some companies have also commenced some clandestine discussions with agents in and outside Ogoni on how to facilitate the success of such operation.

” We appeal to all those involved to discontinue the unholy and selfish alliance and allow the people to decide on this matter and make their choice, without being forced to do so.

” We have consistently stressed that whilst we are not opposed to discussions relating to resumption of oil production in Ogoniland, the federal government and its agents must engage in a broad-based discussion with the Ogoni people that addresses the issues of benefits- sharing, community participation and the proper environmental management of the Ogoni ecosystem, including legacy issues arising from the over four decades of reckless oil operations in the land.

“This is not about the deceit enveloped as corporate social responsibility(CSR) activities but about sustainable outcomes that can take the Ogoni people into the foreseeable future.

” This is the only way the government can gain the confidence and acceptance of the Ogoni people that we are not going back to the same inglorious past of reckless oil exploration and zero benefits to the people and their land.

” MOSOP is ready and will continue to engage and cooperate with any process that respects and recognizes the rights of the people and the community, but will vehemently oppose any form of injustice and intimidation of our people.

” MOSOP stands ready to support any genuine economic activity that will benefit and is in the overall interest of our people, but we will not allow a process that undermines our natural existence and subdues our rights as a people.

” We, therefore, reiterate our avowed position to resist any attempt by the government and any company or their agents to re-enter any Ogoni community for the purpose of carrying out oil exploration activities by FORCE without due consultation and broad-based discussion and agreement with genuine and competent representatives of the people and key stakeholders in Ogoniland.

“We are prepared to resist them with the last drop of our blood”