The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria has begun discussions with 12 host communities in Bayelsa State, which demanded upward review of development obligations.
SPDC’s Media Relations Manager, Bamidele Odugbesan, gave the assurance in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Saturday in Yenagoa.
SPDC has since 2006 been administering community development initiatives driven by community development boards under a Global Memorandum of Understanding funding template.
Communities hosting Shell’s Estuaries Area oilfields in Bayelsa State had at a press conference on Wednesday urged the oil company to review its annual development fund from $1 million to $10 million.
They also asked SPDC to review its other social obligations to them.
The communities made up of four Cluster Development Boards: Iduwini, Mein, Kou and Bassan, funded by Shell, also demanded payment of outstanding $14 million for sea anchorage for vessels deployed by Shell.
According to them, the amount, which accrues from 2006 till date, must be offset within the next 21 days or they will be compelled to stage a peaceful protest at Shell’s EA oilfield in Bayelsa.
They claimed that 80 members of the host communities engaged by Shell in the ongoing oil drilling campaign to acquire experience had been rendered redundant and paid “stay-at-home allowance” for the past one year.
The communities, which are in Ekeremor and Southern Ijaw Local Government Areas of Bayelsa State, claimed that SPDC was marginalising them in spite of their hospitality.
Odugbesan told NAN that SPDC was engaging representatives of its EA oilfields on the issues raised.
“We are engaging the leadership of the communities for a peaceful resolution of the issues,” Odugbesan said.
Wuka Brisibe, Chairman of Community Development Community in Ekeni, had said coastline settlements lacked development in spite of having a Global Memorandum of Understanding with SPDC.
Brisibe said: “The sum of $1 million irregularly paid to the four CDBs covering the 12 host communities of the EA fields as the GMOU funds is inadequate.
“Each of the host community receives approximately $83,333, which upon conversion at the present rate of N450 per dollar, amounts to N37,499,850 only per annum.
“Our people cannot bear the brunt of years of oil and gas exploration and exploitation and not benefit from contracts, supplies and services provided for the operations of the said facilities.
“We are utterly displeased by the disposition of the SPDC in awarding vessel, service and supplies contracts envisaged within the local community content to non-natives and their companies.
“This is done in flagrant disregard for the capacity and capability of natives of host communities to provide the said services or execute such contracts.
“We totally condemn the attitude of the SPDC in its non-compliance with the Local Community Content Policy against its hosts at the EA oil fields in Bayelsa.”
Brisibe called for review of the GMOU to limit interference by SPDC officials in determining the pace of the GMoU, especially concerning remuneration of contractors upon completion of contracts.
NAN reports that SPDC had at its 2019 inauguration of projects in Yenagoa said its official contribution to the development of host communities in Bayelsa State stood at over N23 billion.
The company said under the GMoU, the model placed the choice of community projects on the people, while the company provided the funding and necessary mentoring.
SPDC General Manager External Relations, Igo Weli, said the amount represented about half of the company’s GMoU spent in its host communities in Niger Delta since the introduction of the community development model in 2006.