….Denies Gbaramatu Community Rights Violation Claims
Ugo Amadi –
Neconde energy limited has intensified oil production efforts on the OML42 oil field asset it acquired from oil major Shell in 2012, projecting to realise 60,000 barrels per day, BPD, before the end of the year.
The company whose production capacity is currently hindered by infractions on its facilities by militants activities said it has devised other means to make the asset productive.
Neconde managing director and chief executive, Frank Edozie told journalists in Lagos that due to the vandalised facilities production has been limited to about 15,000 to 17,000 bpd, but with new vigour attached to production process, the company would increase production to 40,000 bpd in the next two months and 60,000 bpd before end of the year.
Edozie said the company has resorted to barging to keep the asset going since the Forcados pipeline facility has proved unreliable as it is prone to attack frequently.
Meanwhile, the company has debunked claims that it refused to honour an agreement to remit 5 per cent of its 45 per cent equity to OML 42 Host Communities and that there has not been any community re-entry project since recommencement of oil exploration activities in OML 42 in 2012.
According to a statement signed by the management, “Our attention has been drawn to newspaper reports stemming from a media briefing by The Gbaramatu Traditional Council, erroneously alleging a violation of the rights of the indigenous people of Gbaramatu Kingdom by displacing those employed at the flow stations and hijacking contracts from local contractors.
“As a joint operator of OML 42 with the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), NEL finds these allegations not only ludicrous, but also a calculated attempt to arm-twist the company into abandoning its transparent operating model that has seen the highest level of engagement of personnel from its host communities in meaningful and sustainable ways in its operations.
“The company also has an established model of executing “Freedom To Operate” agreements with all relevant host community groups for all projects and operational activities in its areas of operation.
“Neconde EL prides itself in local talent development and does not in any way ignore the services of local talent, especially in the host communities of its operations. Therefore, this allegation is false and negated by verifiable employment records in our organisation.”
The management said the allegation bordering on hijacking contracts from local contractors is untrue.
“Local contractors have been providing and continue to provide many services that are key to the operations of the NEL and its Joint Venture (JV) partner NPDC. However, it is common knowledge that operations have been epileptic due to frequent and sometimes prolonged outages of both the Trans-Forcados Pipeline and the Forcados Export Terminal.
“These frequent outages have made it difficult for the JV to effectively manage some of the contracts it employs in its operation. One of such contracts is the Operate and Maintain (O&M) contract through which the JV manages its field activities.
“To reduce significant losses to the JV due to wasteful contractual exposures, a decision was made by the JV to manage these O&M activities directly using JV personnel. Consequently, O&M contracts which expired at the end of 2016 were not renewed.
“The most absurd of the allegations by the Gbaramatu Traditional Council is the claim that the Management of Neconde Energy Limited refused to honour an agreement to remit 5 per cent of its 45 per cent equity to OML 42 host communities.
“It is a matter of public record that NEL acquired its equity in OML 42 following the divestment of same by Shell Petroleum Development (SPDC). NEL is unaware of and did not enter into any agreement with any party or parties to sell or otherwise transfer any of its equity, for any consideration whatsoever, to any party or parties. Obviously, Neconde Energy Limited cannot honour, nor should be expected to honour, an agreement that it is not privy to.
“Furthermore, it is a fact that OML 42 was one of five assets divested by the NNPC/Shell/Elf/Agip JV. Neconde Energy Limited is unaware of any other instance where this claim of entitlement to 5 per cent equity exists.
“Neconde Energy Limited is a socially responsible organization. Our operations are defined by our ethos of transparency, accountability, fairness and empathy. Our exploration and production activities conform to best practices and standards obtainable within the Nigerian petroleum industry.
“Over the years, we have established an enviable track record through the implementation of high-impact prosocial initiatives and activities. Our community development programs, which cover health, education, infrastructure development, economic empowerment and sports, have contributed significantly to higher quality of life and standard of living in our host communities, and we remain committed to dialogue to resolving any genuine disputes with them,” it stated.
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