By Ovie Okpare
Isoko youths under the aegis of Isoko National Youth Assembly (INYA) have passed a vote of no confidence on the activities of the embattled Heritage Operational Energy Services Limited (HOESL), operator of OML 30 in the Niger Delta region.
INYA, the apex umbrella body for Isoko youths worldwide, alleged that Heritage Energy, an indigenous oil firm in the country, was allegedly exploiting members of its host communities including refusal to pay local contractors who have completed their contracts with the company.
The vote of no confidence is coming barely a week after Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), umbrella body for Ijaw youths, also accused the company of plotting to cause unrest in the region through its activities including shortchanging host communities.
IYC, among other things, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to revoke the oil firm’s operational license as it was not capable of handling the operation of the second largest Oil Mining Lease (OML)in the country.
Heritage Energy has, however, denied the allegation saying it was not indebted to any contractor in its area of operation in the region.
The Isoko youths, while affirming the position of the Ijaw youths, lambasted Heritage Operational Energy Services Limited, for being ‘irresponsible’ in their oil exploration activities and relationship with local contractors and host communities.
INYA’s National President, Comrade Ovie Umuakpo, addressing journalists on Tuesday at Ozoro in the Isoko North Council area of Delta State, pleaded with the Federal Government led by President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently revoked Heritage Energy operating license.
According to him, “Never in our history have we witnessed such irresponsibility from a supposed corporate organization that is careless about the survival of companies indigenous to the host environment.
“They award major contracts to their own selves through companies they have deep vested interest in and award abysmal contracts to our people.
“Even at that, our people go unpaid for very long periods of time causing them to be heavily indebted to their creditors as well as unable to impact meaningfully to the communities through gainful engagement of our youths.”
He also added that the region is witnessing the highest rate of oil theft and bunkering under the watchful eyes of Heritage Operational Energy Services Limited.
“Just go round some of our communities and see the level of active oil theft and bunkering going on both day and night under the supervision of the company.
“They continue to aid and albeit these illegal activities first, when they decided to award oil surveillance contracts to a company who has the faintest idea about the Isoko terrain and indeed terrains around their operational base.
He said that critical stakeholders like ethnic nationalities youth leaders as well as local community youth leaders are supposed to be the ones engage in securing oil facilities as it was done in the past and not some few who are aiding bunkering in the area.
The youth leader also decried Heritage’s style of engaging youths outside her host communities in blatant disregard to the local content rule, a development which he said may trigger unrest and destruction of facilities within their domain.
Consequently, Umuakpo called on President Buhari to urgently revoke the licenses granted Heritage so that its activities doesn’t dragged the nation back to the ugly era of heightened militancy and crippling of the economy in the volatile region.
Meanwhile, HEOSL had in an earlier statement, denied the allegation, while also debunking that the company is not indebted to any of its contractor.
The company also dismissed claims that it was incompetent and unfit to operate OML30 which is the second largest OML after Nembe in the country.
The statement explained that, “when it took over operations of OML 30, it inherited many invoices and ongoing contracts. The company noticed that while some of the invoices could be verified, there were some that could not. Despite this, the company went ahead and commenced with the payment of verified invoices while investigating others.
“The volume of the debts necessitated the development in conjunction with contractors of payment plans for installment payments. Since then, the company has been steadily reducing the debts according to the agreed payment plans.”