Host community shuts Shell gas plant, demands electricity supply
Indigenes of Koroama community, which is host to Shell’s Gbarain-Ubie Integrated Gas Plant in Bayelsa State have shut down operations at the gas field and are demanding electricity supply from the power plant component of the facility.
Hundreds of protesting youths, women, and elders of the community have blocked the access road to the facility, leading to suspension of ongoing work at the gas plant.
Paramount ruler of Koroama in Yenagoa Local Government, Chief Sabu Martins, who addressed the protesting members of his community urged them to remain resolute until their aims are achieved. He said the community, which is richly endowed with oil and gas and suffers the adverse effects of gas flares, deserves supply of electricity generated with gas from the area to ameliorate their sufferings.
Sabu noted that the protest had been ongoing in the past three weeks and resulted to forcing contractors to vacate the community until Shell gives a commitment to providing electricity to them.
“Today, I and my people are protesting to SPDC and to the Federal Government as well that Koroama is a host community and has the largest proven gas and oil reserve in the entire Shell operations in this area.
“We have agreed that we could die here if light, the only demand we have, is not given to us, then Shell will never operate on our land. We have given them time to remove their things, we want government to intervene,” the monarch said.
Also addressing the protesters, Miss Ankio Briggs, a community rights activist, noted that the demands of the people who host the gas plant was modest.
“What I have I 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 whom I call the owners of the resources, is about self determination, it is about corporate social responsibility, the demand is just and right. I call on the government of Bayelsa State, Federal Government and Shell to look at the demand. Although it is not the duty of Shell to provide electricity to Nigerians, it is a social and moral obligation to their hosts,” Briggs said.
Spokesman for Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Joseph Obari, in a reaction, said the oil firm had difficulties meeting the demand of electricity supply to its gas plant host communities due to limited capacity.
“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 said.
According to him, “SPDC has progressively fulfilled agreed sustainable community development projects in the community under the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU). For example, in 2014 alone, projects worth over N100million were completed in the Gbarain/Ekpetiama Cluster which covers Koroama.”