By Olisemeka Obeche
The Host communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas (HOSCON), Anambra state chapter has given three companies operating in the state two weeks to upgrade their licences from oil exploration to oil prospecting companies or quit.
The traditional ruler of Ifite-Dunu and Chairman HOSCON’s Elders Advisory Council, Anambra, Igwe Emeka Iluno, said refusal to upgrade to oil prospecting companies by the firms was responsible for the hiccups in according Anambra her full status as an oil-bearing state by the federal government.
He said that if the companies could not do the needful, they should stop further oil prospecting activities in the state and vacate the oil fields. According to him, the affected oil firms had been secretly prospecting crude oil illegally from the area for about six years now without adding values to the host communities.
Hear him: “Three notable oil companies; Orient Petroleum, Oil Indian and Sterling Global are currently prospecting oil at Ogwuaniocha, Ogwuikpelle and Usham all in Ogbaru local government area of the state. Orient Petroleum alone exploits more than 10,000 barrels per day in addition to what Oil Indian and Sterling Global Oil companies are doing.
“It is rather regrettable that these firms had continued to use the licences given to them for exploration to now prospect crude oil thereby short-change both the oil-bearing communities and the state,” he said.
Iluno flanked by Chief Joy Igboka and Harry Okongwu, both members of the group, said the group investigated and uncovered that Oil Indian and Sterling Global laid pipes through which they siphon crude oil to oil facilities in neighbouring Oguta in Imo.
The monarch noted that it was imperative for the companies to do the needful to avoid untoward actions from youths from the oil communities. “Anambra ought to have been benefitting from activities of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Niger Delta Ministry and receiving her share of the 13 per cent oil derivation, but these are denied us. The state has the largest gas deposit in Nigeria and presently produce more than 10,000 barrels of crude oil daily.
“For the department of petroleum resources to have recently stated in the media that Anambra is not due for the benefits due to oil bearing states because prospecting activities had yet to commence fully is false.
“We have enough evidences to prove our matter aside what might be the issue in Aguleri oil bloc where the state, Enugu and Kogi states have pending issue,” he said.
Iluno said that since the recent report that there were insufficient oil prospecting activities in the state, tension had risen, especially in the oil-bearing communities. He said that addressing the media as well as other measures being taken by the group were efforts aimed at holding the youths from actions.
The monarch who hinted that the group was hoping to meet with the companies, and forward other documents to national leadership of HOSCON for the presidency, said any unnecessary delay might be injurious.
HOSCON, Anambra chapter, founded by Mrs Joy Igboka on March 20, 2019 had been at the forefront of agitation for listing Anambra among the oil-bearing states in Nigeria.