The targeted 70,000 barrels per day of crude oil production by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) and its joint venture partner, Neconde, is under threat following a 21-day ultimatum handed over by the host communities’ forum to honour their five per cent equity share.
They also called on the federal government and the management of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to immediately revoke the lease licence issued to Neconde Energy Limited to operate the OML 42 field comprising Batam, Egwa 1, Egwa 2, Odidi 1 and 11 and Jones Creek Flow Station.
Newsmen recalled that the OML 42 host communities are threatening the operations of NPDC/Neconde activities barely a week after a similar threat by kinsmen of ex-militant leader, Chief Government Ekpemukpolo, over allegations of under employment of locals in line with the local content act.
But OML 42 host communities, at the end of a peaceful protest yesterday, alleged that since the inception of oil exploration by Neconde Energy Limited, the company has deliberately refused to fulfill the five per cent equity share to host communities.
They also alleged that the company has been recruiting non indigenes contrary to the Local Content Act as well as frustrating local contractors from accessing contracts from the company.
“In pursuance of its efforts to exclude legitimate and recommended host community contractors for Neconde oil exploration activities, the Group Managing Director of the company recently influenced the replacement of most sectional heads through the Minister of State for Petroleum within NPDC management attached to OML 42, with his kinsmen for the purpose of relegating and screening out recommended host community contractors and replacing them with his owned registered companies and his kinsmen within Neconde.
“This treatment of host communities contractors is so poor to the extent that the payment terms of service Local Purchase Order are delayed, thereby making the host community contractors to incur undue overdraft charges which in turn take away p the whole of their contract profits and huge parts of their projects capital,” they lamented in a statement made available to journalists.
The statement was signed by Chief Johnny Aribogha, Felix Eyengho for Odidi Flow station; Sheriff Mulade, Kingsley Oturubo, Daniel Edende and Isaac Oluba for Jones Creek Flow station; Momotimi Guwor and Chief Clement Tekedor for Egwa Flow station and Don Dickson Ogugu, Wellington Bob Igetei for Batan Flow station.
Reacting to the development, the Chief Operating Officer, Neconde, Chief Olajide Ishola, dismissed the allegations, saying there was no five per cent equity share with the host communities.
He challenged them to come up with documents relating to the agreement and proof that indigenes of the area were not employed by the company.
Ishola maintained that some of the management staff as well as senior staff were from the region, and wondered whether the host communities think that all workers must come from Gbaramatu kingdom.
On the ultimatum, Ishola promised that Neconde had no other means than to engage the protesters in a dialogue, adding: “We will call them for a meeting and see how we can amicably resolve the issues. Federal government also has a lot to do if the dialogue fail.”