Ogonis table fresh demands to IOCs before oil exploration

Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, MOSOP, has said that any oil company seeking the operatorship of the oilfields in OML 11 would cede 15 per cent of its share to the community.

They said their precondition for the resumption of crude exploration was aimed at ensuring that oil-producing communities benefit directly from the petroleum resources in their land as well as to mitigate the loss of livelihoods and other costs connected to oil and gas exploitation.

The position was contained in the Ogoni extractive sector investment template presented by the Ogoni oil and gas production’ 20 man-committee headed by Professor Ben Naanen to the President of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Legborsi Pyagabara and other stakeholders in Port Harcourt yesterday.

Naanen explained that with the commencement of the implementation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report and the emerging trends towards improved environmental management by oil companies, there has been a rise in growing opinion in Ogoni supporting the exploitation of the natural resources in the area to stimulate development and create jobs.

He stated that on account of this, there had been the necessity to engage the government and competent oil companies in respect of the resumption of oil production in Ogoni.

According to him, production would have to be subjected to strict environmental safeguards, respect for human rights and equitable distribution and development formula to ensure maximum benefit for Ogoni.

Naanen explained that after months of deliberations, the committee, which was set up by stakeholders under the auspices of MOSOP, resolved that any company seeking the operatorship of the 12 Ogoni oilfields with a potential yield of over 185,000 barrels per day, would have to cede 15 per cent equity to the community. He said the proceeds from the equity would be used for the development of the land.

In the report, the Ogoni people said any possible resumption of oil production must be geared towards the creation of optimum impact and must go beyond the old method of simply drilling and exporting crude which has made oil production an enclave industry with limited development impact in Nigeria.

“In Ogoni, there has to be a new strategy of ensuring that oil extraction generates ancillary industrial activities such as gas gathering and utilisation. Indeed with Ogoni fields harbouring some of the largest gas deposits in Nigeria, and the gradual transition to a gas economy, the resumption of oil production should be accompanied by the establishment of gas and petrochemical facilities in Ogoni,” he said.

The committee stated that any objective for crude oil production must be anchored on poverty reduction through sustainable oil and gas investment in the resource-rich settlement and inclusive benefit sharing that permeates the grassroots.

The panel also said there was a need for an integrated oil and gas industry with accompanying socio-economic opportunities guided by respect for human rights and environmental guidelines, gas-empowered electrification of Ogoni and her people’s participation in the management of the petroleum resources in their land.

Naanen said the decision of Ogoni to demand the 15 per cent equity was based on the fact that the 13 per cent derivation funds currently controlled by state governments had hardly produced a concrete impact in oil and gas producing communities.

The committee also enumerated how the proceeds from the Ogoni equity which would be paid into a trust fund will be distributed among the communities.