On June 13, 2017, Stakeholders Alliance for Corporate Accountability, SACA, organised an all-oil and gas stakeholders gathering for the Gbarain/Ekpetiama Cluster communities. The gathering which was tilted The Benefits of Shell’s GMoU and Issues Arising, was facilitated by the Civil Society veteran, Mr. Austin Onuoha of the African Center for Corporate Responsibility.
Fire Outbreak at an Illegal Refinery
An illegal refinery caught fire at about midnight on Tuesday, December 5, 2017, at Ibelebiri/Agba communities in Bayelsa State. Ibelebiri and Agba communities are located between Yiba-ama (Oruma) in Ogbia Local Government Area in Bayelsa State and Okarki community in Ahoada West Local Government of Rivers State, both communities are on the bank of Kolo Creek. Ibelebiri is to the North of Oruma while Agba is to the South of Okarki.
On 29th June, 2015, SACA attended a meeting in Korama Auditorium to address the blockage of the access road to SPDC’s rig by the community youths and women. SACA was represented at the meeting by SACA’s Executive Director, Mr. Abba Ayemi. Also in attendance at the meetingwas the Honourable Commissioner for Mineral Resources, Bayelsa State, Barr. Francis Ikio.
Barely a year after the resolution of the Ogboloma electricity crisis during which the entire Ogboloma community came out on the road protesting for weeks against Shell, another issue has arisen between the community and the company. The community youths, led by Mr. Josiah Inebaraton, called SACA to inform us that they were going to cut some of Shell’s oil pipelines in their community because of several blockages they cause to the flow of their fishing waters. According to them, they had written several times to the company as well as to the government to complain about this problem and got no response whatsoever from the company. But the government did come, they admitted. According to them, the State Ministry of Environment has visited the place, assessed the blockages and have asked the company to come and correct the laying of the pipes, all to no avail.
For days, SACA persuaded the youths to hold their peace and not attempt bursting any pipeline, but to give us a chance to talk to the company. When the youths insisted, SACA requested the youth leaders to come and see our Board Chairman, Fr. Kevin O’Hara, who happened to be coming to town on December 15, 2017. 2 SACA staff, Abba Ayemi and Chidi Usanga, together with the Board Chairman, met with the youth leaders at Matho Crystal Hotel in Yenagoa on December 16, 2017, to discuss the way forward on the issues. When the youths insisted again, before Fr. O’Hara, on their plans of attacking Shell’s pipelines, Fr. O’Hara, who was visibly annoyed at their obstinacy, threatened that SACA would never listen to them again if they tampered with the subject pipelines and the security forces descended on them. Reluctantly, the youths then agreed to dialogue.
A report on the blockages was then brought out. The publication, which is a documentation of the blockages and recommendations by Scientific Ideas Limited, a company contracted by Shell to assess the blockages, was brought out by SACA. The report is titled “Special Environmental Assessment of Gbarain-Ubie 1 Pipeline Alleged Blockage of Natural Waterways in Opolo and Environs, Yenagoa Local Government, Bayelsa State, Nigeria.” The youths partially repudiated the report, stating that it did not contain all the data pertaining to their own community.
SACA promised them to bring up this issue with Shell in our next meeting with them.
Agip oil company signed up to the UNDP-NOSDRA plan for Disaster Risk Reduction for pipeline sabotage in Ikarama and Kalaba communities in Bayelsa State in 2014. In a proactive strategy they invited Stakeholders Alliance for Corporate Accountability (SACA) to collaborate with them to win hearts and minds of the communities.