Shut oil wells: Soldiers visit Agip fields, wade into crisis over shut Bayelsa oil wells

Posted by News Express | 29 May 2015 | 3,929 times

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The Joint Military Task Force in the Niger Delta operation Pulo Shield has sent a 10-man team to mediate in the crisis between Agip and its host community Egbebiri, which has disrupted oil production.

The Egbebiri community in Yenagoa Local Government Area had on Tuesday shut down six oil wells belonging to the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), accusing the company of neglecting its corporate social responsibility to them.

The aggrieved community members, comprising youths and women, cut down trees to block all access roads to the oil wells.

A visit to the Idu Oil fields on Thursday, showed that the six wells that were put out of production by the community on Tuesday remained shut.

The Chairman of the Ijaw Youths Council in Egbebiri, Mr John Aniedima, said that the military personnel were already in the community to seek peaceful resolution of the crisis.

“The soldiers numbering 10 are in the community to appeal that we open the blocked access roads and reopen the shut oil wells, they are not there to forcefully reopen the roads and wells, they are persuading.

“We explained our position to them and the wells remain shut. I am told that Agip had invited representatives of the community to a meeting at their Port Harcourt Office but we insisted that the meeting be held in our community. “That is the situation as we speak,” he said.

The paramount ruler of Egbebiri, Chief Aniedima Nicholas, said that the people disrupted the oil production because of NAOC’s refusal to renew the Memorandum of Understanding with the community.

Nicholas said the maiden agreement signed in 2001 lapsed in 2005, but efforts to get the oil firm to renew it proved abortive.

Nicholas said: “Our grievances are due to the insensitive posture of Agip to our developmental needs.

“Our needs and expectations are captured in that agreement and if you look at the few amenities we have here, they are products of the first agreement.

“From 2005 till date, Agip abdicated its role and that stagnated development here.

“The road you see was from that agreement. We have waited for too long and decided to take this final step.

“We are prepared to go to any length to bring them to the negotiation to pay us our outstanding liabilities for jobs done by the community for more than one year.

“Our surveillance jobs on their pipelines have continued in spite of the heavy debts owed us as well as pending compensation for oil spills since 2010,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Filippo Cotalini, International Media Manager at Eni, the parent company of NAOC, said on Wednesday that the firm was investigating the incident and would issue a statement as soon as possible.

Source: News Express

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