Shell JV raises alarm over safety risks concerning occupation of oil facilities
20 Aug 2017
The illegal occupation of Belema Flow Station and Gas Plant in Rivers State has safety implications both for the people at the facilities and nearby communities, The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) has warned.
Since August 11, 2017 some persons have camped out day and night at the two facilities.
In a statement on Sunday, SPDC said it was “deeply concerned that unauthorised persons, including women and children, have been observed in close proximity to equipment that process crude oil and gas without the protection of safety clothing that is mandatory for people working in or accessing such restricted areas.”
SPDC had carried out an emergency shutdown of production ahead of the illegal occupation, but has been unable to access the facilities since then to ensure a safe shutdown over a prolonged period. “The continued illegal occupation for many days exposes people at the plant to higher safety risks as anything could trigger a spill or fire with potentially serious consequences,” the company warned.
Meanwhile, Shell says it remains committed to the development of the Niger Delta especially host communities including Belema and Kula. It claims that along with it partners they have contributed $29b to the economic growth of Nigeria between 2012–2016. While currently supporting various GMoU Cluster Development Boards in the Niger Delta and mentoring NGOs to deploy a total of N7 billion for development projects of host communities’ choice under the GMoU programme.
Unfortunately the GMoU programme have been bogged down as a result of continuing intra-community disagreements. As at 2015, there were a total of 11 court cases involving different groups with SPDC as a co-defendant in all of them.
“Sadly, these legal suits and disputes have rendered it impossible to implement more planned development projects in the affected communities,” said SPDC’s General Manager, External Relations, Igo Weli, while commenting on the allegations of neglect””.
“Notwithstanding that SPDC has divested its equity in OML 24, which covers most of the communities in Kula and Belema, the SPDC JV has continued to implement agreed Social Investment programmes such as scholarship and entrepreneurship schemes for the communities there”.
Despite the challenging environment, the SPDC JV set aside more than N600 million for a five-year period beginning 2014 for development initiatives at Kula and the satellite communities of Belema, Offoinama and Boro.
Shell JV also claimed that it has invested over N352 million in Improvement of school infrastructure, sanitation and health outreach programmes, construction of walkway for the community and electricity supply in Kula Kingdom in the past 10 years.
“The host communities of OML 25, including Belema and Offionama have continued to benefit from contract awards, employment of unskilled labour and our social investment programmes, including yearly award of regular and special scholarships to eligible candidates from the area. With the divestment of its interest in OML 24, SPDC relinquished operatorship of the facilities in that field”.
Shell’s social investment activities focus on community and enterprise development, education, health, access-to-energy, road safety and since 2016. Collectively, Nigeria has the second largest concentration of social investment spending in the Shell Group.