Koroama community, host to Shell Petroleum Development Company’s Gbarain-Ubie Integrated Gas Plant in Bayelsa State, has shut operations at the gas field in a protest to demand power supply from the power plant at the facility for its people.
Scores of youths, women and elders of the community blocked the access road to the facility and suspended ongoing work at the gas plant in the community.
Chief Sabu Martins, Paramount Ruler of Koroama in Yenagoa Local Government Area, who addressed the aggrieved members of his community, goaded them into remaining resolute until their objectives were realised.
The monarch lamented that the community endowed with oil and gas suffered the adverse impact of gas flares and deserved supply of electricity generated with gas from the area to ameliorate their suffering.
He noted that the protest had been ongoing for the past three weeks and resulted in forcing contractors to vacate the community until the oil firm gave a commitment to provide electricity to them.
Martins said, “Today, my people and I are protesting to SPDC and to the Federal Government. Koroama is a host community and has the largest proved gas and oil reserves in the entire Shell operations in this area.
“We have agreed that we could die here if light, the only demand we make is not given to us. Then Shell will never operate on our land, we have given them time to remove their things, we want the government to intervene.”
Miss Ankio Briggs, a community rights activist, addressing the protesting members of Koroama community, noted that the demands of the people who host the gas plant were modest.
Briggs said, “What I have heard them say today is not different from what has been said for a very long time. What they are demanding is in line with what Adaka Boro demanded.
“This story about host communities who I call the owners of the resources, it is about self-determination, it is about corporate social responsibility, their demand is just and right.
“I call on the Government of Bayelsa, Federal Government and Shell to look into the demand, although it is not the duty of Shell to provide electricity to Nigerians but it is a social and moral obligation to their hosts.”
Spokesman for Shell Joseph Obari, in reaction, said that the oil firm had difficulties meeting the demands of electricity to its gas plant host communities due to limited capacity.
He said, “The Bayelsa State Government is leading discussions with Koroama community to end the blockade of SPDC project sites in the area.
“The community commenced the blockade about three weeks ago to press their demand for free and uninterrupted power supply to the community from SPDC’s gas plant in the area.
“The Gbaran-Ubie Integrated Oil and Gas Plant supplies back-up power to two neighbouring communities under an agreement entered into with host communities in 2006, during the project conception stage.
“Due to limitation imposed by the power capacity of the plant, it has been unable to accommodate other communities’ requests to tie into the power system.”
Obari added that SPDC had progressively fulfilled agreed sustainable community development projects in the community under the Global Memorandum of Understanding.
For example, he said, in 2014 alone, projects worth over N100 million were completed in the Gbarain/Ekpetiama cluster which covers Koroama.