By Oscarline Onwuemenyi
ABUJA – The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Rivers State Government have pledged to work together to restore production activities at the Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC operated Obigbo Gas Plant in Oyigbo Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Production activities at the 90 million standard cubic feet (scuf) per day Non Associated Gas facility came to a halt two years ago following massive invasion of the pipelines right of way by inhabitants of Umuebulu Community via erection of buildings and cultivation of farmlands.
But speaking at the end of an extensive joint facility tour of the plant over the weekend, the Group Managing Director of the NNPC Dr. Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo and the Governor of Rivers State Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, resolved to embark on measures which would bring the plant back on stream in line with the National Gas Master Plan.
Barkindo lamented that the Obigbo gas plant within the state was lying idle for nearly two years, noting that time has come to get it back to life following the restoration of normalcy in the state.
He said, â€œWe are engaging our partners in the Joint Venture with your assistance to mainstream Obigbo where we have an installed capacity of 90 million scf which translates to nearly 300 megawatt of power that is lying idle.
â€œOyigbo I understand is not only lying idle but because of encroachment of some settlers around the facility and the high level of health, safety and environment of gas plant, it has become very difficult to continue to run the plant.â€
While Barkindo described the resuscitation of the Obigbo gas plant as a necessity in achieving the nationâ€™s short and medium term gas projection target, Gov. Amaechi was resolute that the evacuation of the errant dwellers from the path of the dangerous pipelines is a matter of humanitarian and economic urgency.
â€œI did not expect to see what I just saw. We have no option open to us than to work with the Governor, the LGA Chairman and Shell to immediately see how we can quickly relocate these people who have encroached on this facility.
â€œThis is disaster waiting to happen. We are shutting down 90 million scuf of gas at a time when every molecule is very important for our domestic gas obligations but life comes first,â€™â€™ Barkindo stated.
On his part Governor Amaechi said that he has directed the commissioner for urban development to value the properties and enumerate the people in good time for eventual demolition.
â€œIt is 200 metres from each side. A month after that, the properties should be demolished. He has also been mandated to call everybody around to explain to them why we are doing what we are doing.
â€œWe are doing this because we need to protect their lives. We should not forget that the Nigerian economy is dependent on oil and we cannot abandon this project because 200 metres have been encroached upon by illegal occupants,â€™â€™ he stated.
On compensation for the illegal occupants the governor said, â€œWe are not going to see them as illegal occupants; we see them as genuine Rivers people who in search of land may have been misled into buying land here. We are not going to look at who is right or wrong but we are going to look at the lives of the people. We are going to buy the land from them at commercial rate and encourage them to look for land elsewhere.â€™â€™
speaking earlier the NNPC GMD paid tribute to the governor for his role in the amnesty programme which has helped Nigeriaâ€™s total production of crude oil and condensate to hit 2.4million barrel per day.