…Urges FG to Develop Heritage Institutions like the Oloibiri Oil
By Henry Umoru – Abuja
The Senate, Monday hailed the federal government for the conceptualization, design, and award of N35billion contract for the establishment of the Oil and Gas Research Centre and Museum, OGRCM in Oloibiri, Bayelsa State, the first oil field in Nigeria to promote tourism and improve the socio-economic well-being of the people.
The Senate has also urged the government to give priority attention to the development of heritage institutions like Oloibiri oil field as a constant contact reminder and enrichment of the history of the country’s socio-economic development.
The upper legislative has also directed the Petroleum Technology Development Fund, PTDF, and the concerned contractors to mobilize to the site, commence the immediate construction of the OGRCM in Oloibiri.
Resolutions of the Senate yesterday were a sequel to a motion entitled, ” the need to ensure immediate commencement of the first oil field” sponsored by Senator Degi-Eremienyo Biobarakuma (PDP Bayelsa East) and co-sponsored by 28 other Senators.
The Upper Chamber has also mandated its relevant committees to carry out intensive oversight on the development of the project.
Presenting the motion, Biobarakuma, however, informed that the first oil well in the country was discovered in commercial quantity in Oloibiri by the Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC on January 15, 1956, with a production capacity of 5,100 barrels per day.
The Senator explained that “export of crude oil from the Oloibiri field started in 1958 and shortly after, crude oil became the mainstay of the economy”, adding that “consequently, changing Nigeria’s oil history haven launched the country into the elite club of oil producers astronomically increased her foreign exchange earnings.”
About 63 years after the discovery, he lamented that “exploitation and production of crude oil, the Oloibiri field, and surrounding host communities had suffered neglect and environmental degradation.”
Biobarakuma recalled that the idea to build a world-class museum of oil and gas, with foundation stone equally laid by President Shehu Shagari in 1983 and another one
by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2001, the progress of the project was however halted while the area continued to suffer neglect.
He also informed that despite the Act later presented by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC to establish the National Oil and Gas Museum and Research Centre in Oloibiri and recommended its construction with budgetary allocation from the federal government under the management of the National Commission for Museum and Monuments, NCMM, “no progress was made being a clear case of neglect and abandonment.”
He was further worried that the project still remains moribund after the government removed it from the NCMM to the PTDF in 2011.
According to Biobarakuma, the contract for the Oloibiri oil field as re-awarded by the PTDF at N35billion is yet to commence, leaving the host communities with negative memories of oil exploration and production.
In their contributions, Senators George Sekibo (PDP Rivers East), Ibrahim Oloriegbe (APC Kwara Central), Abdullahi Barkiya (APC Katsina Central) and Christopher Ekpenyong (PDP Akwa-Ibom North West), noted that the host communities had suffered neglect for decades and urged the government to ensure that the new project is not abandoned.