Bayelsa communities threaten to shutdown Shell operations over Development Trust

Mkpoikana Udoma

Port Harcourt — Seven communities in Bayelsa State have vowed to shutdown operations of the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, SPDC, over inauguration of the Host Community Development Trust, HCDT, for Estuaries Area’s oilfield, also known as EA oilfield.

The communities – Bisangbene, Amatu I, Amatu II, Letugbene, Orobiri, Ogbintu and Azamabiri – are demanding to have a separate HCDT from other host communities and clans within SPDC’s EA oilfield in Ekeremor Local Government of the state.

Leaders of the seven communities, Mr Timothy Geregere from Bisangbene, and Mr Ebis Rames from Amatu II, explained that they do not want to be clustered alongside other communities, adding that they had made their position known to SPDC from the outset.

According to them, the communities have given Shell a peaceful environment to operate, but the company was rooting for crisis by allegedly forcing four separate clans into one HCDT.

“We want to be treated separately in the EA oilfield and we have written several letters to SPDC. We have also demonstrated that we need separation. We will not allow divide and rule in our communities, so we are telling the world that we should be allowed to operate a separate trust.

“The separation is necessary because we are about 12 communities in the EA and these 12 communities cannot live together. We were initially about four different clans operating the GMoU, when the PIA came they invited us for a meeting, where they told us about it.

“Right in the meeting we told Shell that we needed separation but they wanted to force the 12 communities together and we said no,” they said..

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“The name of these twelve communities are Amatu 1, Amatu 11, Bisangbene, Letugbene, Bilabiri 1, Bilabiri 11, Ikeni, Izetu, Orobiri, Azamagbene, Agge and Ogbintu. While Bisangbene, Amatu 1, Amatu 11, Letugbene, Orobiri, Ogbintu and Azamabiri, are the seven communities that have agreed to work together.

“If there is no separation in the PIA, there will be no operation in the EA field. For the past years, we have been making peace, giving them enabling environment to operate and we have already built peace to almost 89percent but they are the ones now causing problem.

“We will shut down their operations, because I think for the past two years, even the GMOU has not being operating properly. The Communities are not benefiting anything for the past three years,” they added.

The communities also berated SPDC for allegedly denying them employment as well as refusing to implement the GMoU it had with the communities more than two years ago, before the advent of HCDT.

“The other challenges we are facing is on community content plan, SPDC brought community content plan for us to sign and the Communities have signed, but SPDC refused to sign its part up till this minute and we are saying they should sign that documents and we also want the GMoU, the remaining part of the GMOU to be paid to the communities.

“There have been no employment from year 2000 till now, I think the people who Shell employed from our communities are not up to ten and they are like casuals till this moment. No human capital development, no empowerment, we are just suffering.

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“The government should tell Shell  to meet the demand of the communities, or else we will not have any option than to shut the operation till they meet our demands,” they stated.

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