By Sampson Boroh
Hundreds of aggrieved women and youths from Koluama 1& 2 communities in Koluama clan, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, of Bayelsa State, has offered reasons why they shut down the 30,000 barrel per day Conoil facility in the state.
The protesters who invaded the crude oil production facility owned by the Conoil Producing Limited on Tuesday, said it was due to alleged refusal to renew an expired Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) with the host communities.
Our correspondent learnt that the breached oil Facility known as Angle field operated by Conoil since 2012 has the production capacity of crude production of over 30,000 barrels per day.
The indigenes, made up of women, youths, and elders, stormed the facility at about 1 pm on Tuesday armed with placards with inscription such as “No GMoU, No Crude oil exploration”, Conoil pack, and Go, we are tired of suffering” and “Koluama people are suffering”, demanding a peaceful shutting down of operations at the facility.
Despite the heavy presence of armed soldiers and other security personnel, the officials of Conoil obliged and shut down its operation. The noticeable gas flaring was put off.
In an exclusive interview with the Secretary Koluama Clan Oil & gas Committee, Mr. Jonathan Amabebe, explained that part of their anger is that there is no binding agreement between Conoil and the community.
He accused Conoil of bluntly refusing to come to the negotiating table with the people of the community, adding that all efforts by the state government, security agencies, and other stakeholders to dialogue with them have been useless due to their frustrating efforts.
He further said “The new MOU was supposed to have been written a year ago but Conoil have been taking us for granted; we have tried to use every means to reach so as to negotiate with them but they have refused to meet us.
“We have shutdown pending when all our agreement and demands are met, we will occupy the facility until they agree to do the needful. It’s been over a year and two months. Since inception Conoil has never employed any indigene of our communities.”
The protesting Koluama Indigenes however vowed to occupy the oil platform until their demands on scholarships and education issues, employment of indigenes, and the provision of electricity through the building of turbine are met by the company through the signing of a new and workable GMoU.
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While at the scene of the protest, the Oil and Gas Chairman of Kolumama communities, Ebimielayefa Dick Ogbeyan, while addressing the security personnel on duty, said the communities embarked on the angry action because all effort to seek amicable settlement had failed,” From inception, Conoil have never employed our indigene. We sat together and agreed on a GMoU, but they failed to implement it all. And now, it has expired over 14 months ago and they have refused to sign another one.”
“We have done all that is needed to be done but they refused. We have met leaders of security agencies, Governments, and other stakeholders to prevail on Conoil but they refused. The stakeholders agreed with us on this action.
“The Community wants them to pack peacefully. We know we are not getting anything and we are not expecting anything. They cannot be getting so much from oil exploration from our land and we are not getting anything.”
“We are here to carefully and peacefully ask them to pack without bloodshed. There should be no quarrel or fighting. The people of Koluama communities are tired with Conoil.”