OML 29: Litigation by Aiteo’s host communities will not affect oil production – Kachikwu
The State Minister for Petroleum Resource, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, has said that the legal action instituted by Nembe communities in Bayelsa over the renewal of the lease for OML 29 will not disrupt oil production.
Kachikwu, on the sidelines of the ongoing Nigeria Oil and Gas Opportunities fair in Yenagoa, said he had yet to be served the court processes.
He said that the disagreement between the operator of the oil block and members of the host communities had no bearing with the licensing process.
Kachikwu, who was reacting to a question on the position of the government on the litigation, said that the process would go on as scheduled.
“To start with, I have not been served with the court processes and the case cannot affect oil production, we cannot halt oil production because there is a disagreement with the communities,” he said.
The people of Nembe-Bassambiri in Bayelsa on March 26 urged the Federal High Court, Yenagoa, to halt the renewal of lease for OML 29 to Aiteo pending the outcome of a substantive suit in the court.
The development is sequel to plans by the Minister of Petroleum Resources to renew the lease of OML 29 oil block to Aiteo for 82 million dollars in spite of reservations of the community being projected in Suit No. FHC/YNG/CS/62/2015.
The plaintiffs are Ikaonaworio Eferebo-Igoma, Iyerite Chiefson Awululu-Atubu, Ayebaesin Edoghotu-Omoh, Markson Amaegbe-Orutari, B.C. Benwari-Yousuo and Doibo Evans representing OML 29 host communities.
The defendants are Attorney-General of the Federation, Minister of Petroleum Resources, Federal Ministry of Environment and Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria.
Others are Aiteo Exploration and Production Ltd., Attorney-General of Bayelsa and The Deeds Registrar, Bayelsa Ministry of Lands.
The applicants are seeking an order to restrain the Minister of Petroleum Resources from granting any application for the renewal of OML 29 “beyond the subsisting 30-year term.”
The trial judge, Awogboro Abimbola, fixed April 11 to hear the motion on notice and urged both parties to make more efforts in ongoing settlement moves.
Abimbola asked both parties to inform the court of any progress made on the settlement efforts at the next adjourned date. (NAN)