By Emmanuel Addeh
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, has said asking the oil companies operating in the country to relocate to the Niger Delta without first addressing the security concerns in the area would escalate crude oil production cost.
Sylva insisted that youths and residents of the region must eschew restiveness and work for peace and security as preconditions for multinationals to relocate.
The minister spoke in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, at the special town hall meeting organised by the state government and the ministry of petroleum resources with chiefs, youths and other stakeholders in the state.
A statement by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), recalled that the interactive session was a directive of President Muhammadu Buhari, after the #ENDSARS protest last year, for ministers and other top government functionaries to enlighten Nigerians about the plans and programmes of the federal government.
Stressing that Nigeria’s unit per barrel cost was the highest among the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) members, the minister noted that the agitation must be looked at from the perspective of cost.
“It will be cheaper for oil companies to operate from here because it is nearer from the operating areas. The only concern is that we have a responsibility to bring peace and security because that is another source of cost.
“If you don’t have peace and security and the oil companies move back here, then you add to the cost of oil production,” he explained.
He maintained that it would make sense to the oil companies to return if the environment is safe because it will be cheaper for them, but clarified that on its part, the ministry was not against the oil companies moving back.
“They were here before. Shell was in Port Harcourt and Warri and most of other companies were here. They only ran away when insecurity took over the region. It is time to bring back peace and security so that those firms can return,” he said.
The minister further reiterated that the current administration was committed to the development of Bayelsa State and other states of the Niger Delta.
Sylva affirmed that the federal government was willing to promote more investments that will create jobs and prosperity for citizens and residents of the state and listed the Nigerian Content Tower as one of top achievements of the current administration.
The minister further stated that the federal government is promoting the development of Nigerian Oil and Gas Park at Ogbia LGA of the state and is facilitating the development of two modular refineries within the state.
He listed the refineries as the 12,000 barrels per day Hydroskimming modular refinery being constructed by Azikel Petroleum Limited at Obunagha, Gbarain, and the 2000 barrels per day modular refinery being developed by Atlantic International Refinery and Petrochemical Limited at Okpoama, Brass Local Government Area.
He added that the federal government has also taken final investment decision on the Brass Fertiliser and Petrochemical Project, among other projects.
The minister affirmed that the various projects would create thousands of direct and indirect jobs for Bayelsans and other Nigerians during the construction stage as well as the operations phase of the facilities.
Speaking further, Sylva charged residents and stakeholders in Bayelsa state to embrace unity and collaborative spirit in order to enjoy more developmental strides.
He said: “From this meeting, we expect a lot more understanding because some of the problems we have are as result of breakdown in communication. This forum will create a platform to understand the plans of what the state government is doing and how the federal government can also assist in order to create a better life for the people.”
In his remarks, Governor Douye Diri pleaded for unity, synergy, collaboration and cooperation from all parties to move the state forward and requested the federal government to commence the Nembe/Brass road.
“All the projects that you have located in Brass local council will become elephant projects if we do not have a road leading there,” he said.