Residents of Koluama in Bayelsa State have vacated a crude production flow station operated by Conoil Production at Ango Field shut down on March 8, after a dialogue with the oil firm. The facility was shut down over the refusal of the oil firm to renew a lapsed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which spelt out social obligations of the oil firm to its host communities. T he aggrieved members of the community had stormed the facility and ordered the oil workers to shut down the facility and leave the site of the 30,000 barrels per day capacity flow station.
The Youth President of Koluama 1, Mr. Philip Emmanuel, yesterday in Yenagoa, the state capital, told reporters that the members of the community, who occupied the facility after it was shut down, had left the site. He noted that the action was sequel to a meeting held between the representatives of Conoil, Koluama community and security agents, saying: “We left the facility after a meeting of our community leaders held in Yenagoa, where the issue of the MoU was the sole topic, but not much progress has been made.”
He added: “So, following the development, our community leadership in an effort to show goodwill had instructed us to come out of the facility and on Sunday we came down, the meeting has been adjourned to March 21. “The position of the community is that the company has grown its production from 10,000 barrels per day to the current 30,000 barrrels per day so they should review their development contributions to the community.
“We shall resist the use of security agents to intimidate our representatives and we insist that they are to restrict their functions and not take sides to coerce and shut out our people from expressing their grievances.” Meanwhile, a community leader, Chief Young Fabby, a resident of the rural settlement along the Atlantic coast also confirmed that the facility had resumed production, saying that the gas flare stack which indicates production status has been ignited and is burning off associated gas.
But, the Media Relations Manager at Conoil, Mr. Abiodun Azeez, declined to respond to enquiries by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) to comment on the ongoing dialogue with members of the oil firm’s host community. Similarly, the oil firm is yet to react to inquiries via email, short message services and telephone calls over the recent developments.
Bayelsa Commissioner for Mineral Resources, Mr Ibieri Jones also confirmed that the Koluama community had already vacated the facility and oil production resumed. “Yes we held a meeting with them on Saturday and they agreed to leave the facility, the women left that Saturday evening while the youths vacated the next day,” Jones said.