Ola ‘Kiya, Reporting
AN imminent shutdown of operation at Otumara Flow Station that was about to cost Nigeria 20,000bpd crude oil production has been temporarily averted in Delta State.
This was sequel to the seeming timely intervention of officials of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) on Saturday.
A shutdown of Otumara Flow Station operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) was in the making since Friday evening when protesters gained entry into the facility in droves.
A 48-hour ultimatum, which expires 5:00p.m, had earlier been issued on Wednesday when folks from Ugborodo, Ugboegungun and Deghele communities laid a siege to the flow station.
They are demanding the inclusion of Otumara Host Community Trust in the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021.
It appears the protesters meant business so they armed themselves with placards, victuals, traditional drums, dance steps and lines of esoteric chants with speedboats that served as the only means of transportation to the facility.
They shook the foundations of the facility and mangrove forest with their drumbeats, disc jockey vibes, frenetic dance steps and chants to cosmic forces for guidance.
The roar reverberated from the deep mangrove to the seat of power in Abuja, who does not joke with losing a drop of the black gold believed to have brought stupendous fortunes to a few and penury and deaths to the host communities.
So, to preserve the Nigeria’s mono-economy source, officials of NUPRC on Saturday raced to the venue before things get out of hands.
Stonix News gathered that following the occupation of the SPDC flow station on Friday after the expiration of 48 hours ultimatum, officials of NUPRC with SPDC were saddened and afraid of a worse situation.
They have to beg the peaceful, but dogged protesters occupying the Otumara Flow Station to back down and embrace reason.
Recall that Ugborodo, Ugboegungun and Deghele communities in Warri South West had been calling on SPDC to visit the host communities in line with the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021 provisions which empowers communities to set up a host community development trust (HCDT).
The three communities had, in line with the provision, jointly established Otumara Host Community Trust to interface in the implementation of the PIA, but SPDC and NUPRC have refused to accept the initiative.
Confirming the Saturday visit, one of the Ugborodo leaders, Mr Alex Eyengho, in a statement made available to Stonix News on Saturday evening, said the communities have agreed to temporarily suspend the second stage of the protest.
Stonix News reports that the second stage was billed to culminate in a total shutdown and stoppage of production which will cost the country 20,000 barrels per day of crude oil.
Eyengho said the temporary relief would subsist till a tripartite meeting among NUPRC, SPDC and leaders of the communities is held as proposed by the former.
He, however, warned that if by the end of Monday, August 28, 2023, the NUPRC refused to give a definite date for the proposed tripartite meeting in Abuja, the Otumara Flow Station will be shut down, indefinitely.
His words: “The NUPRC team led by the Warri Regional Head (Rep the Executive Director) Mr. Benjamin Ogunnubi, Shell team led by Operations Manager of the Otumara facility, and reps of Ugborodo, Ugboegungun and Deghele Community, with the security agencies, were in attendance.
“Mr. Ogunnubi read out the above press statement after addressing the protesters. The communities responded and told him their resolution as follows:
“The community would suspend temporarily the second stage of the protests, which is to completely shut down production in the facility.
“If by the end of Monday, August 28, 2023 the NUPRC refuse to give a definite date for the proposed tripartite meeting in Abuja between Shell, the three communities and NUPRC, production in the Otumara facility of Shell, shall be shutdown on Tuesday, August 29, 2023, until the Otumara Host Community Development Trust (Otumara-HCDT) is created by Shell for the three communities and incorporated in the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) accordingly.
“The peaceful protest inside the Shell facility in Otumara by the communities shall continue until number item number 2 above is addressed and achieved.”
Corroborating the agreed relief, in a statement signed by NUPRC’s Mr Ogunnubi and said to be read out to the protesters late Saturday, the regulatory agency said the communities – Ugborodo, Deghele and Ugboegungun – should allow for calm and peace, with an assurance of the effective implementation of the HCDT provisions in the PIA, 2021.
“The attention of the NUPRC has been drawn to the ongoing complaints by the indigenes of Ugborodo, Deghele & Ugboegungun communities, Wam Southwest LGA Delta State regarding the name of HCDT and composition of the board of trustees of the HCDT.
“The Commission in line with hs statutory mandate on the implementation of the HCDT provisions in the PIA, 2021 to ensure peace and conducive operating environment for upstream operations has directed that all HCDT allegedly initiated on the above Communities be suspended pending a tripartite meeting to be held on an agreed date by authorized persons of the Communities, NUPRC and SPDC
“The NUPRC is using this opportunity to request Ugborodo, Deghele & Ugboegungun communities and all concemed parties to remain calm and allow peace to reign while assuring all parties of our regulatory support and continued efforts towards ensuring effective implementation of the HCDT provisions in the PIA, 2021,” Ogunnubi pleaded.