Nembe Communities Occupy Shell Oil Facilities in Nigeria

Shell's environmental destruction of southern Nigeria is internationally condemned 12th May 2014

Stakeholders and indigenes of Nembe-Bassambiri in Bayelsa State last weekend besieged oil facilities operated by the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) over it’s divestment plans and proposed sale of its Oil Mining Licenses (OMLs).

The host to some of the SPDC’s installations in Nembe Local Government Area of the state, were angry at the plan by Shell to sell OML 29 located in their domain without consulting them.

Shell has reportedly placed its 45 percent stake in four oil wells including OML 29 for sale as part of the company’s divestment.

OML 29 is believed to have increased to 62,000 bpd of oil and 40 million standard cubic feet of gas per day (mmscf/d). It also holds reserves of 2.2 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe).

The aggrieved protesters who stormed the company’s facilities on Saturday with diffrent  placards asked Shell to stop production for three days to address their demands.

Numbering over 100, the demonstrators consisting of women, youths, chiefs, leaders and elders from the community came on 15 speedboats.

The protesters led by a member of the community’s Oil and Gas Committee, Chief Brigidi, took over the Nembe-Brass waterways, chanting solidarity songs as they sailed to SPDC’s major oil platforms in the area to register their grievances.

Some of the placards displayed by the protesters read: “the land is ours, the oil is ours, Shell cannot divest without us”;  “No, to Shell OML 29 sale”; “After polluting our land and water, Shell wants to sell our land”.

Others are “No to fraudulent sell of investment”. “No to Shell fraudulent divestment”;  “OML 29, OPU Nembe demand justice”; “Do not sell our oil wells to strangers” and “Include our companies in OML divestment plans”.

A member of the Nembe-Bassambiri Council of Chiefs, Chief Bukunor Alfred, said members of the community were angry at the plan of SPDC to sell oil blocks in the area without consulting them.

He said delegates sent by the council of chiefs to dialogue with SPDC on the development returned disappointed, saying, “Our placards have shown that we are not happy with Shell. We are by this protest giving Shell three days to shut down operation and dialogue with us or we will ensure that these facilities are permanently closed.”

He said though SPDC had contributed in the development of the community, the company was wrong to take a major decision of divesting without consulting its landlords.

“We are not against what they are doing. But we want to say that we are the landlords and we are supposed to be notified on what our tenants are doing,” he said.

Also, the Chairman of Opu-Nembe Improvement Union (ONIU), Mr. Ebinyo Robert, said the community would not let the company to leave unceremoniously after destroying its environment through pollution.

He insisted that the company must involve the community in all the processes involved in selling OML 29.

He warned that individuals and companies indicating interest to buy the oil wells should desist or have the community to contend with.

He said the communities have nominated three companies, Amot Oil E&P Limited, A-Abas Resources and Isea BMG, to participate in the bidding process.

He said: “The place has been polluted and our enviroment, our water our land, has been degraded for a long time. We have not been rehabilitated the way we really wanted it.

“By this demonstration, we are telling the parties to the sale including the bidders to desist from going ahead because if they do, of course, the land is ours, the water is ours and the oil is ours, they will have us to contend with and they may not like us in the manner in which they will meet us when they come to operate.

“So, we are asking the SPDC to stop the flow and all operations for now and ensure that the community is carried along because that is the only way we can have peace here.

“We are also saying that the community has nominated three companies, Amot Oil E&P Limited, A-Abas Resources and Isea BMG, to participate in the bidding process. So, SPDC should involve these companies in the process.”

But the Operations Team Lead Santa Barbara Flow Station, Mr. Akpe Emmanuel, welcomed the protesters on behalf of Shell.

He thanked them for the peaceful manner in which they conducted the demonstration and promised to pass their grievances across the SPDC.

He said: “Once again, you are welcome. I want to thank you for the manner in which you presented your case. I really appreciate it on behalf of Shell.

“Like the community has assigned you to represent them, I am also here on behalf of Shell. I have heard all you have said. It is my duty to pass this message to my principal.”