By Ovie Okpare
The Shell Petroleum Development Company Nigeria Limited (SPDC) on Thursday commissioned 34 projects executed through the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) of Ogulagha Kingdom Cluster in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta state.
This is just as SPDC has called for continued partnership with host communities and relevant stakeholders in the oil and gas industry in the country.
Among the projects inaugurated include the renovation of Obotobo 1 Community Town Hall, construction of Obotobo 1 Community Bridge, construction of Obotobo 2 Community Corps Members Lodge, award of 272 scholarships and vocational skill training program for 101 youths/women.
Speaking at the inauguration of the projects, SPDC’s General Manager, External Relations, Mr. Igo Weli, condemned what he described as deliberate saboteurs its facilities in the Niger Delta region
He, however, urged stakeholders of the petroleum industry to outrightly condemn activities of crude oil saboteurs in the region, saying such activity had great impact on the region’s environment and the health of the people.
Weli, represented by the Installation Manager Forcados Terminal, Engr. Arthur Owagbedia, he pointed out that having smooth operations will ensure more social investments such as the ones being commissioned.
He added that there will be more social investments in the area if the people of the area would maintain the existing peace and jealously guide oil and gas facilities in their communities.
According to him, “I therefore urge our host communities to continue to create an enabling environment for the sustenance of business. It is important to realise that it is only when businesses in your environment thrive that we can undertake more social investment initiatives.
“I also encourage all stakeholders to speak up against sabotage of facilities because willful damage of company assets, like pipelines, is a criminal act that sadly also has far-reaching negative implication for the people and environment.
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“Sabotage to facilities harms the environment and is also unsafe for those undertaking this dangerous activity. We must speak up against crude oil, vandalism and the attendant damage to our environment,” Weli stated.
Speaking on the GMoU, GM External Relations lauded the Ogulagha Kingdom Cluster Development Board (OKCDB) for collaborating with the mentoring non-governmental organisation, Initiative for Community Development (ICD) and other stakeholders in realising the projects and programmes.
“SPDC JV desires that this cluster thrives, full of rich and varied projects, programmes and businesses designed to address the needs of the community. If Ogulagha kingdom continues to promote peace, safety and growth among themselves and support SPDC JVs sustained uninterrupted production there will be many more social investment projects and programmes that will benefit the people”, Weli further stated.
On his part, Delta State governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, appealed to oil multinationals in the region to address issues of mistrust and conflicts arising from the activities of oil exploration, adding that it will help deepen peace in the region.
Okowa, represented by the commissioner for oil and gas, Prince Emmanuel Amgbaduba, also urged oil operating firms to effect more development for their host communities, even as his administration strives to ensure an enabling environment for investors.
The governor posited, “GMoU gives equal negotiation opportunity to all stakeholder by eliminating issues of distrust, disharmony and conflict in our host communities”.
Earlier in his welcome address, the chairman of Ogulagha Kingdom Cluster Development Board (OKCDB), Chief Linus Yeinanagbegha, expressed gratitude to the SPDC JV for the introduction of the GMoU in the kingdom, saying the GMoU will speedy up development in the area.
He also thanked SPDC for awarding scholarships to some students, outside the regular post-primary scholarship programme.
According to Yienanagbegha, OKCDB was inaugurated in 2015, but funding started in 2016, after which the board embarked on the commissioned projects.