Military task force wades into crisis between Bayelsa community, Agip

Youths from Egbebiri at Biseni in Yenagoa local government area of Bayelsa keeping watch over idu well 3, during protest over expired memorandum of understanding on Tuesday (26/5/15). 2782/26/5/2015/nathan/ch/nan

The Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta has sent a 10 man team of soldiers to mediate in the crisis between Agip and its host community in Biseni which resulted in disruption of oil production.

The people of Egbebiri Community in Biseni, Yenagoa Local Government Area, Bayelsa on Tuesday shut down six oil wells operated by Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NAOC, alleging that the company neglected its Corporate Social Responsibilities.

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

Checks at the Idu Oil fields on Tuesday showed that Idu wells 3,5, 6, 8,11,12 were shut down by the host community.

The Chairman, Ijaw Youth Council in Egbebiri, John Aniedima, said in a telephone chat on Wednesday that the JTF personnel were in the community to seek peaceful resolution to the crisis.

“The soldiers numbering 10 were in the community to appeal that we open the blocked access roads and reopen the shut oil wells.

“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, Aniedima Nicholas, had said that they disrupted the oil production because of NAOC’s refusal to renew the Memorandum of Understanding with the community.

Mr. Nicholas said the maiden MoU signed in 2001 expired in 2005, but efforts to get the oil firm to renew the MoU proved abortive.

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He 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 MoU.

“From 2005 till date, Agip abdicated its role and that stagnated development here. The road you see was from that MoU. 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 as pay us our outstanding liabilities for jobs done by the community for more than one year.

“Our surveillance jobs on their pipelines have continued despite heavy debts owed us as well as pending compensation for oil spills since 2010,” Nicholas said.

Meanwhile, Dan Jumbo, Public Affairs Manager at NAOC, said that could not comment because he was on his lunch break as ended the call.

He declined to answer subsequent calls nor respond to a text message on the incident.

The production capacity of the six shut oil wells could not be immediately ascertained to quantify the revenue loss to the incident.

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