By Henry Umoru
ABUJA—THE Senate yesterday, said Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, was not relocating its operational base from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, to Lagos, as being speculated.
This came as the Senate asked the Rivers State Government to provide a peaceful, threat- free environment for SPDC to continue its operations in the state, urging the SPDC to always maintain constant dialogue with the state government to douse the visible apprehension over the company’s purported relocation from the state.
The decisions of the Senate yesterday were sequel to deliberation on the report of the Senator Samuel Anyanwu-led Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions in respect of a petition from the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Rivers State on behalf of the government and people of the state against SPDC for alleged planned relocation of its operational base from Port Harcourt to Lagos.
The Committee said: “Shell actually assured the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions and representatives of the Rivers State Government on oath that relocation of Shell from Port-Harcourt was not intended and would not happen.”
Earlier in his presentation, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Anyanwu, said, among others that: “By a tender document dated September 15, 2016, and published in its website, Shell Nigerian Exploration and Production Company Limited, SNEPCO, a subsidiary of SPDC, advertised for tenders for the construction of a Supply Base Services in Lagos.”
“That in recent years, the Niger Delta region has witnessed increasing divestments and relocations by SPDC on very flimsy reasons that bordered on purported high living and operational costs;
“That there had been a subsisting Presidential Order issued in 2015 for the clearance of all oil and gas-related cargoes in designated terminals in Onne, Warri and Calabar ports which had never been implemented;
“That the relocation plan was provocative and already staking a lot of anger in Rivers State because, if allowed, it would further dislocate the economy of the state, increase poverty, unemployment and untold sufferings of the people, a situation that is capable of escalating the ongoing crisis in Rivers State in particular and the Niger Delta region in general, with serious implications for national security.”
The Managing Director/Chairman of SPDC, Mr. Osagie Okunbor, on his part, said: “SPDC voluntarily moved its Head Office from Lagos to Port Harcourt in 2005; That the company had over 2,000 staff and 200 contractors in Port Harcourt. The company had a long-time relationship with the people of Rivers State and there was no intention of moving its headquarters out of Rivers State. That when he heard that Shell was planning to relocate to Lagos, he immediately made effort to meet and discuss with the Rivers State governor to allay the fears of the state and assure the governor that relocation of the headquarters of SPDC was not in their agenda.”
Meanwhile, Chairman, Ugborodo Community Management Committee, Mr. Austin Oboroegbeyi, yesterday, frowned at the rejection of the bill by members of the House of Representatives, seeking the relocation of headquarters of the various International Oil Companies, IOCs, to the Niger Delta region, describing it as unfortunate.
Speaking in a statement made available to newsmen in Warri, Oboroegbeyi, noted that by this singular act the members of the National Assembly had further demonstrated its insensitivity to the plights and yearnings of the people of the Niger Delta region.
While stating that it was still very difficult to understand the rationale behind the throwing out of the motion on the floor of the House by the federal lawmakers, Oboroegbeyi, stated that the action has clearly shown that the legislators are only out to frustrate the ongoing peace moves between the government and the people of the region.