Eromosele Abiodun writes that through continuous engagement with key stakeholders, Seplat has continued to ensure that its investments deliver inclusive development not only to the company, but also to critical external stakeholder
One of the banes of the oil and gas industry in time past was poor engagement with host communities.
Therefore, communities and state governments, which hosted oil facilities were often in the dark about key developments in their domains. This led to suspicion and distrust; in the end stability in the industry was never guaranteed.
This state of existence has largely been done away with as more indigenous players in the sector are going the extra mile in engaging their host communities and involve them in critical projects. This change in strategy has engendered greater trust, cooperation and stability in all states in the Niger Delta and beyond. Seplat Petroleum Development Company has been a glaring example of this shift.
When on Friday, 20 November, a team of SEPLAT executives who were on a tour in Edo State visited the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, they also visited host communities and reiterated their commitment to contributing to stable electricity supply in Nigeria through the Gas Plant facility sited at Oben Field in Edo State
SEPLAT has deepened its business and investment in energy infrastructure in Oben Field with its construction, years ago, of a massive state of the art ultra-modern gas plant which today supplies gas to energy companies and industries across Nigeria. The Oben gas plant provides gas that facilitates the provision of over thirty-five per cent of electricity in the country. According to Roger Brown, who recently assumed office as Seplat new Chief Executive Officer, it was pertinent to pay courtesy to critical stakeholders who are our hosts in these areas where our significant gas, as well as oil assets, are located.
The SEPLAT team comprising the Chairman, Dr ABC Orjiako; Chief Executive Officer, Roger Brown and other executives began the tour with a courtesy call to the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki and later to His Royal Majesty, Felix Mujakperuo, Orhue 1, the Orodje of the Okpe Kingdom and His Royal Highness, Odoligie Frederick Ogiemwonyi, the Enogie of Oben Community.
Speaking during the courtesy visit on the Governor of Edo State, the SEPLAT CEO, congratulated the governor on his victory at the recent elections and for the successful inauguration for another four years in office.
He said SEPLAT would continue to create value for the federal and State governments through the payment of royalty, taxes and levies and assist host communities through robust corporate social investments especially in capacity development, sustainable community infrastructure projects and economic empowerment programmes.
Brown reaffirmed that SEPLAT has continued to drive up its commitment to increasing the country’s energy security and boosting Nigeria’s gas to power initiative through deliberate significant investment in its gas business.
He added that, “To date, Oben remains a major gas hub and that the company has recently drilled additional new gas wells in Oben to increase further our production and our ability to meet growing demands.”
The Chief Executive Officer elaborated the numerous benefits of the Oben Gas Plant to the immediate communities, Edo State and the country.
He also harped on the different activities and programmes of the Company in Edo State.
He enumerated a few to include the provision of medical equipment/items to the State government to support containment of COVID-19 pandemic and also provision of palliatives to communities to cushion the effects of the lockdown arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The SEPLAT CEO added: “As a responsible corporate organization, we are committed to contributing to the development of Edo State, economically and otherwise. Since the commencement of operations in the state, the company has undertaken important health, education and numerous community development projects to support sustainable development in the State. He highlighted to the Governor that in addition to the yearly Seplat PEARLs Quiz programme for secondary schools, which has boosted students’ academic performance in the State, the company has just introduced a new programme targeted at the teachers. The new educational programme called SEPLAT Teachers Empowerment Programme (STEP) will debut in Benin on November 24, 2020.
“It aims to systematically support and encourage embedding Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) in schools. The STEP programme will develop the competencies of teachers to improve the quality of their teaching. The select teachers will in six months, undergo a customized programme. A total of hundred Teachers from Edo and Delta will be the first beneficiaries, in the first instance.”
The Edo State Governor, in his remarks, welcomed the SEPLAT team and commended the Company and its partner NPDC for the significant investment made in the State.
He pledged the state government continual support for the company in its quest to drive development in Edo State.
He also assured of the state and communities’ continued collaboration with SEPLAT in providing the enabling environment for the Company to operate.
The governor expressed his appreciation for the company’s social programmes. He noted that the goals of educational initiatives of SEPLAT align with that of the State, which hinges on improving the standard of education.
Obaseki continued: “We are focused on education, retooling and resetting our educational system. Thank you for your quiz programme. Our children are now learning because we have retooled our educational system in Edo State.
“We would like to work with you on the teachers’ employment programme because as a state, we have experimented a lot in terms of teachers’ reforms. I just reviewed the progress we have made in the three-year teachers’ programme that we have just introduced in Edo State.”
The Governor requested to partner with the company in the construction of roads in some parts of the State.
Also, he charged the company to provide electricity to some immediate communities within its operations.
At the courtesy visit on the Orodje of Okpe Kingdom, His Royal Majesty, Felix Mujakperuo, Orhue 1, the Chairman, Dr ABC Orjiako, thanked the Monarch for the cordial working relationship between the Company and its Communities in Okpe Kingdom.
He also expressed appreciation for the support given to the Company since inception regarding its operations, adding that the Company is committed to the development of Okpe Kingdom.
“Seplat’s strong local ties and commitment to the Company’s host communities have been intrinsically important to its success as a leading indigenous oil and gas companies. Since inception, we have prioritised sustainable community development through creating shared value for its local communities which has been critical in not only achieving operational success but also protecting the Company’s social licence to operate. Without such inclusion there could have been operational disruptions, increased costs and reduced value for its shareholders, “he said.
Orjiako added, “The Global Memorandum of Understanding (“GMoU”) Seplat entered into with the local communities that host its operations within OMLs 4, 38 and 41 was the Company’s first community development agreement signed between the Company and its local stakeholders. This set the standard for all of Seplat’s subsequent engagements with local stakeholders as the Company has grown and acquired additional licences.
“The GMoU provides a framework within which the Company and its host communities can work together to support wider sustainable community development. Under the terms of the GMoU, a Community Development Committee, also referred to as the Host Communities Forum, has been established and is comprised of representatives from each host community.”
Commitment to Capacity Development
Also speaking, Brown expressed appreciation to the Orodje for the support given to the company for its operations. He assured that the Company is committed to the infrastructural and capacity development of Communities in the Okpe Kingdom.
His Royal Majesty, Orhue 1, the Orodje of the Okpe Kingdom, who gladly received the SEPLAT team, commended the company for its commitment and support to host communities, stressing that the relationship must remain a win-win situation for the people and SEPLAT.
He urged the company to continue its good works while enjoining the Company to provide additional support in healthcare infrastructure, employment of graduates from the area and award of contracts to Okpe vendors.
At the Palace of the Enogie of Oben, Roger Brown, commended Oben Field communities for providing the enabling peaceful environment for the company to operate.
He emphasized the importance of Oben to the company’s business and the nation with the colossal gas infrastructure in Oben community.
The CEO stressed that the company would sustain the cordial working relationship with the Oben Field Communities and continue to execute sustainable community development projects and programmes to the benefits of the communities.
The Enogie and other Oben Field Community leaders while expressing their appreciation of the Seplat visit and activities in their locality requested the company to employ its teeming youth; provide uninterrupted electricity and patronage of indigenous contractors from the communities.
Roger Brown pledged the company’s willingness to sustaining the cordial working relationship between it and the communities whilst reiterating the commitment to contributing to their socio-economic development through SEPLAT’s continued sustainable community development activities and programmes.