Oil exploration activities of the largest fossil fuel company in Nigeria, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) may be heading towards a gridlock over rift between it and one of it’s host communities in the Niger Delta region.
Indigenes of Letugbene community, an Iduwini clan in Ekeremore Local Government Area of Bayelsa state has today, Wednesday 23, 2014, issued SPDC a 14-day ultimatum within which to accord them ownership recognition of its Tunu flow-station operations or face the unpleasant consequences of further neglect.
Issuing the threat in a press statement signed by Mr. Jonah Toikiri and Mr. Job Azosibe, the Chairman and secretary of the community respectively, a copy of which was made available to newsmen in Warri yesterday, the people expressed disaffection over the continued violation of court judgments which accorded them ownership status to the flow-station since 2012 by SPDC management.
While calling for total compliance to the judgments in the interest of peace, the people noted that failure to act on the ultimatum to reach out to them within the specified 14-day period (starting from today, Wednesday, April 23, 2014) the company should be prepared to either vacate their land or engage all its military might to commit genocide in the community, as they would not hesitate to fight with their last blood to defend their land.
According to the statement: “it would be recalled that on 30th of July 2012, the Bayelsa state High Court, sitting in Yenagoa and presided over by the Chief Judge of the state, Honourable Justice Kate Abiri, entered judgment in favour of the Letugbene community against SPDC and others in the suit No; YHC/31/1994, declaring Letugbene community as the owners of all the lands and areas bordering the Tunu Flow-Station location operated by SPDC after more than eighteen (18) years of trial”.
Continuing, “the appeal filed by SPDC at the court of Appeal, Port Harcourt, Rivers state, was however dismissed for want of prosecution on 11th June, 2013, sequel to the community motion filed by its counsel, Bar. Nnamdi Ugwuka with motion No; CA/PH/297m/2013, at the same Appeal court in Port Harcourt”.
“Since these landmark judgments were delivered, all efforts made by the community through letters and other correspondences to reach out to SPDC to accept the verdict of the courts and recognize Letugbene community as the host to the said Tunu Flow-station location and accord the community their due right and benefits as host community had proved abortive”, the statement read.
It further stated that, ”having exhausted all peaceful means to reach out to SPDC to accord them their due recognition and rights without success, the community has resolved to take their destiny in their hands to ensure the enforcement of these judgments of the two competent courts in the country and this we will do with everything we have including our blood”.
“The community is therefore giving SPDC fourteen (14) day ultimatum to reach-out to the community on this issue or SPDC should be prepared to either vacate our land or slaughter every man, woman, boy and girl of Letugbene community with their military might at the expiration of the ultimatum”, the community vowed.
Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) is the largest fossil fuel company in Nigeria, which operates over 6,000 kilometres (3,700 mi) of pipelines and flowlines, 87 flowstations, 8 natural gas plants and more than 1,000 producing wells.
SPDC’s role in the Shell Nigeria family is typically confined to the physical production and extraction of petroleum. It is an operator of the joint venture, which composed of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (55%), Shell (30%), Total S.A. (10%) and Eni (5%). Until relatively recently. It operated largely onshore on dry land or in the mangrove swamp.
Shell started business in Nigeria in 1937 as Shell D’Arcy and was granted an exploration license. In 1956, Shell Nigeria discovered the first commercial oil field at Oloibiri in the Niger Delta and started oil exports in 1958.
Prior to the discovery of oil, Nigeria like many other African countries strongly relied on agricultural exports to other countries to supply their economy. Many Nigerians thought the developers were looking for palm oil.
Shell Nigeria is the common name for Royal Dutch Shell’s Nigerian operations carried out through four subsidiaries—primarily Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC).
Royal Dutch Shell’s joint ventures account for more than 21% of Nigeria’s total petroleum production (629,000 barrels per day (100,000 m3/d) (bpd) in 2009) from more than eighty fields.