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This Day (Lagos) Nigeria: Shell Seeks Dialogue As Bayelsa Youths Protest

By Ejiofor Alike: 15 July 2011

Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) has stated that it is in the process of engaging the protesting youths of Kolo Creek communities of Bayelsa State who tampered with the company’s installations in such a manner that poses serious threat to people and the environment.

This is coming at a time the German government has pledged to increase her level of involvement in Nigeria’s Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) project, which accords with the Federal Government’s determination to earn more revenue from gas than oil.

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stated that Germany will increase its involvement in the NLNG industry.

But the Bayelsa youths from four communities in Kolo Creek – Imiringi, Elebele, Otuasega and Oruma – Thursday protested at SPDC Joint Ventures Kolo Creek field logistics base, over an alleged failure of Shell to supply the communities with electricity from its facilities.

But the Corporate Media Relations Manager of Shell, Mr. Tony Okonedo, said in a statement that the Kolo Creek field logistics base had been supplying electricity to Elebele, Imiringi and Otuasega communities in line with an agreement reached in 1999.

“However, these communities have since expanded and the demand for power has exceeded the installed capacity. As an alternative, SPDC facilitated the hook-up of the communities to the Bayelsa Electricity Supply Board (BESB) grid,” he said.

He noted that the company had continued to implement development projects in the area, adding that the Kolo Creek Cluster Development Board was inaugurated in 2007 as part of the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) signed for the execution of the Gbaran-Ubie Integrated Oil and Gas Project.

Okonedo said a total of N535 million was disbursed to the board between 2006 and 2010 for the implementation of projects, including civic centres, accommodation quarters for teachers and youth corps members, drainage systems, internal roads, electricity hook-up and guest houses.

Okonedo said SPDC would continue to engage Kolo Creek communities on the implementation of development projects in the area.

“The Bayelsa State Govern-ment has been informed of the situation, and we hope that it will be resolved peacefully,” he added.

The protest, which generated tension in Ogbia Local Govern-ment Area, where President Goodluck Jonathan hails from, involved both youths and women of the four communities.

Speaking in Abuja Thursday at a joint media conference with President Jonathan as part of a state visit to Nigeria, Chancellor Merkel said Germany and Nigeria would increase their level of cooperation in LNG.

“Our effort is to intensify cooperation with respect to liquefied natural gas … technical and development cooperation are areas we intend to do more,” said Merkel.

Nigeria, with the world’s eighth-largest gas reserves, has one of the world’s biggest LNG plants on Bonny Island in Rivers, which accounts for 10 per cent of world’s LNG supply.

Apart from the Brass LNG, which is being constructed in Brass Island of Bayelsa State, a four-train Olokola LNG with a total capacity of 22 million tonnes per year is also being constructed at the border towns between Ogun and Ondo States.

The shareholders in Brass LNG are the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), 49 per cent; Eni International, 17per cent; Phillips (Brass) Limited, an affiliate of Conoco Phillips, 17 per cent and Brass Holdings Company Limited, an affiliate of Total, 17 per cent.

Though the shareholders have not signed the Final Investment Decision (FID) of the project, the record-breaking pre-FID expenditure of over $700 million is a demonstration of the confidence of investors in the project.

However, the shareholders recently launched the Invitation to Tenders (ITTs) for the project’s Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC), as part of the project’s milestones.

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