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Shell Petroleum Opens Dialogue with Communities on Development Initiatives

Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC said it has begun discussions with 12 host communities in Bayelsa which demanded upward review of development obligations.

SPDC’s Media Relations Manager, Bamidele Odugbesan said the company was engaging representatives of its EA oilfields on the issues raised.
“We are engaging the leadership of the communities for a peaceful resolution of the issues,” Odugbesan told the News Agency of Nigeria.

SPDC has since 2006 been administering community development initiatives driven by community development boards under a Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) funding template. Communities hosting Shell’s Estuaries Area (EA) oilfields in Bayelsa had at a press conference urged the oil company to review its annual development fund from $1 million to $10 million.

They also asked SPDC to review its other social obligations to them.
The communities made up of four Cluster Development Boards (CDBs) – Iduwini, Mein, Kou and Bassan – funded by Shell, also demanded payment of outstanding $14 million for sea anchorage for vessels deployed by Shell.
According to them, the amount, which accrues from 2006 till date, must be offset within the next 21 days or they will be compelled to stage a peaceful protest at Shell’s EA oilfield in Bayelsa.

They alleged that 80 members of the host communities engaged by Shell in the on-going oil drilling campaign to acquire experience had been rendered redundant and paid ‘stay-at-home allowance’ for the past one year.
The communities, which are in Ekeremor and Southern Ijaw Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Bayelsa, alleged that SPDC was marginalising them in spite of their hospitality.

Wuka Brisibe, Chairman of Community Development Community (CDC) in Ekeni, had said that coastline settlements lacked development in spite of having a GMoU with SPDC.
“The sum of one million dollars irregularly paid to the four CDBs covering the 12 host communities of the EA fields as the GMOU funds is inadequate.
“Each of the host community receives approximately 83,333 dollars which upon conversion at the present rate of N450.00 per dollar amounts to N37,499,850 only per annum.

“Our people cannot bear the brunt of years of oil and gas exploration and exploitation and not benefit from contracts, supplies and services provided for the operations of the said facilities.
“We are utterly displeased by the disposition of the SPDC in awarding vessel, service and supplies contracts envisaged within the local community content to non-natives and their companies.

“This is done in flagrant disregard for the capacity and capability of natives of host communities to provide the said services or execute such contracts.
“We totally condemn the attitude of the SPDC in its non-compliance with the Local Community Content Policy against its hosts at the EA oil fields in Bayelsa,” Brisibe said.

He called for review of the GMOU to limit interference by SPDC officials in determining the pace of the GMoU, especially concerning the remuneration of contractors upon completion of contracts.

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