ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, Yenagoa
Aggrieved youths of Koluama in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State have shut down the oil facility operated by Conoil Producing Plc over alleged non-implementation of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with host communities.
It was learnt on Friday that the disrupted oil facility known as Ango 2 field has been operated by the oil major since 2013.
The facility is said to have a crude oil production capacity of over 30,000 barrels per day.
It was also learnt that the aggrieved indigenes, comprising women, youths and elders, caught the security personnel stationed at the facility unawares.
The protesters reportedly invaded the place brandishing placards with inscriptions such as ‘No MoU, No Crude oil exploration’, ‘ConOil pack, and go, we are tired of suffering’ and ‘Koluama people are suffering’.
They were also said to have demanded the shutdown of operations at the facility.
The protest by the aggrieved community indigenes was also backed by the members of the Koluama Oil and Gas Committee (KOGC).
The KOGC alleged that the oil firm had failed in the implementation of the MoU which spelt out the social obligations of the oil firm to its host communities.
The Chairman, KOGC, Chief Jonathan Amabebe, said some of the community’s demands included clean-up of oil spill sites in the various communities and carrying out medical outreach to communities affected by oil spillages.
Amabebe noted that other demands were the issuance of an employment letter to one of the community’s qualified indigene, who was successful in Conoil’s last employment exercise in 2015 and the award of contracts across the five host communities in Koluama Clan — Tamazo, Koluama 1, Koluama 2, Olobia and Kalaweiama, embedded in the MoU among others.
Also speaking on the protest, the Technical Assistant to Special Adviser to the Governor on Oil and Gas, Prince Tare Ekubo, said the community had sent several warnings and letters to the oil major.
Ekubo wondered that despite those warnings, intervention by the government, and meetings with the firm’s management to ensure that the relationship between both parties did not degenerate, the oil company had allegedly refused to implement the decisions reached hence the community’s action.
He, however, said the Bayelsa State government would engage both parties to resolve the lingering issues once and for all.
When contacted on the phone, the spokesman for Conoil, Richard Edegbai, dismissed the protest, saying it was just a minor disagreement.
“It is not a protest at all. It is just a minor disagreement and we will resolve it,” he stated.