SEPLAT Petroleum Development Company Limited, a joint venture indigenous firm, has developed strategies to integrate its host communities with its operations in the Niger Delta.
This is with a view to not only ensuring the security of operations, but also to make the communities have a sense of belonging in its areas of operations.
Explaining further on the strategies, the Managing Director/Chief Executive of Seplat, Mr. Austin Avuru, told journalists in Lagos that what the oil company, which recently acquired three Shell oil blocks in the Niger Delta, is trying to do is to improve the living condition of every community impacted by its operations; even it is by way of pipeline routes.
He said, “We are trying to move away from just building classroom blocks or constructing boreholes, but to deliberately give our host communities a sense of belonging in what we do, that we are not just here for profit-making, but also to give something back.”
In this regard, he said that Seplat gives the communities the first chance in terms of hiring and contracts execution without compromising standards.
According to him, “As long as they are qualified for a particular vacant post, we hire them. Same thing goes for our contracts, and that is why we set up a base station in Sapele so that we can interact with the people more.”
Avuru explained that to ensure that standards were maintained and privileges are not abused, the partners and representatives of the host communities developed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, to guide the company’s development interventions in the respective communities.
“Under the MoU, parties agree on the amount of money to be made available each year for specific projects, and broken further for increased control, what percentage of this amount goes to capital/physical infrastructure, the percentage that goes to scholarships and education, and for the different segments of intervention they require. So for each year we agree on the work programme for community development,” he said.
The Seplat boss explained that the essence of the strategies is such that the communities’ development will be adjudged by the length of time the company stayed in the region.
“If we stay for 10 years, anyone assessing the community will be able to see how positively we have impacted on the communities beyond physical infrastructure to empowerment and human capital development.”
Notwithstanding the harsh operating environment, compounded by the non-passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, Avuru gave the assurance that Seplat will continue to engage the communities in every aspect of its operations.
He also added that the company is going ahead with its work programmes with or without the PIB, and plans to meet its five year production targets that will elevate it to the top five indigenous oil producers in the country.