By Abel Johngold Orheruata
WARRI/Nigeria: All International oil companies have been called upon to relocate their headquarters to the Niger Delta without further delay.
The call was made in a Communiqué issued at the end of A 2-Day Conference on Securing Oil And Gas Installations in Delta State (Phase 1) held at Ogulagha Town, Burutu Local Government, Delta State.
The Delta State Deputy Governor, Barr. Kingsley Otuaro, who is the chairman of the Delta State Advocacy Committee Against vandalism of Oil and Gas Facilities that hosted the Two-Day conference while reading the communiqué and fielding questions from newsmen at a press briefing in Government House Annexe, Warri, noted that the committee has continued to embark on modalities to forestall the outbreak of pipeline vandalism in the state.
Barr. Otuaro asserted that in other to achieve this, the advocacy committee has continued to create platforms of engagement with relevant stakeholders, youths, community leaders as well as routine dialogue with oil companies in the area.
The deputy governor said the Delta State government has well articulated programmes to meaningfully engage youths in oil bearing communities which include wealth creation and entrepreneurship, skill empowerment as key factors, noting that oil companies operating in the region cannot employ all.
Barr. Otuaro while reading the communiqué said the conference observed that Nigeria economy is heavily dependent on crude oil earnings with Niger Delta oil and gas accounting for 90% of Nigeria’s export and forex earnings, contributes over 70% of total Nigerian revenue which is a veritable source of employment and wealth creation.
According to him, the conference noted that an estimated 1.5 million tons of oil has been spilled into the Niger Delta ecosystem over the past 50 years, while over 800,000 barrels of crude oil are lost daily to vandals and the remaining 90% is wasted on the environment resulting in irreversible damage to the ecologies of impacted areas.
While saying that vandalism of oil and gas installations is criminal and has continued to degrade existing pipeline infrastructure with monumental losses, the conference resolved to optimize the advantages derivable from oil assets for the wellbeing of present and future generations.
“Host communities, oil companies and government, all have responsibility in ensuring that the objective is achieved through minimizing acts of vandalism, especially by sharing intelligence on such criminals, as joint owners of oil assets”. He stated.
The Deputy governor said the conference resolved that as a contribution to remediating the environment, the conference called on all International oil companies to relocate their headquarters to the Niger Delta without further delay while government and oil companies should adopt bioremediation, noting that bioremediation stimulate the growth of certain microbes that use crude oil as a source of food and energy.
Barr Otuaro, said the conference is of the firm belief that no amount of force and deployment of Nigeria’s instruments of coercion can fully secure oil and gas facilities as much as host communities would do, rather oil companies should involve host communities in securing the pipelines and other installations in their territories.
The conference while applauding the Delta State government for its various youth empowerment/Skill acquisition programmes, it was resolved that government should also ensure that oil companies comply with best practices both in their relationship with communities and in the technical standards of their operations.
He said the conference noted with utter resentment the deliberate non-employment policy of qualified persons in oil producing communities by the international oil companies, nothing that a look at the international oil companies employment from 2005 till date shows a greater majority/presence of their staff are employed from non-oil producing areas especially the Yoruba/Igbo axis.
He noted that the conference decried the situation where international oil companies operating in the Niger Delta have their headquarters outside the region, thus denying the states in the Niger Delta the taxes and royalties due to them.