Shell, NNPC, Others Unveil 16 More Community Devt Trusts as PIA’s Gains Deepen in Niger Delta

Shell, NNPC, Others Unveil 16 More Community Devt Trusts as PIA’s Gains Deepen in Niger Delta

Peter Uzoho

In consolidation of the gains of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) in the oil producing Niger Delta, eight Host Community Development Trusts (HCDTs) have been unveiled in Rivers State by the joint venture (JV) partners comprising the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC), Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), TotalEnergies and the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), otherwise called the SPDC JV.

Shell in a statement issued yesterday, stated that the same number of HCDTs had already been unveiled in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State and that the latest eight unveiled brings to 16 the number of Trusts that have been presented to the public out of the 22 incorporated in the joint venture’s areas of operations in Imo, Rivers, Delta and Bayelsa States.

“The Rivers State Government welcomes the establishment of Trusts and will support them to achieve their objectives,” said the acting Permanent Secretary, Rivers State Ministry of Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, Mrs. Blessing Orlukwo, who represented the Commissioner at the unveiling ceremony, was quoted to have said at the event

Commenting on the development, Deputy Managing Director of SPDC, Mr. Wessel de Haas, said: “The hope of SPDC, as the operator of the joint venture, is that the unveiling of the Trusts will set the tone for a better narrative and the dawn of a new era in the Niger Delta.”

Highlighting the impact of crude theft, pipeline vandalism and social unrest on the operations of oil companies, de Haas enjoined members of the HCDTs to take advantage of the grievance-resolving provisions of the PIA and ensure hitch-free oil and gas explorations and production activities to guarantee funding for the trusts.

He said communities should not allow “internal strife and chieftaincy struggles to negatively impact the setting up of or operations of Trusts in their areas.”

The SPDC, expressed its hopes to incorporate a total of 33 Community Trusts in its areas of operation.

The Chief Upstream Investment Officer, NNPC Upstream Investment Management Services (NUIMS), Mr. Bala Wunti, who was represented by Deputy Manager, External Relations, Mrs. Bunmi Lawson, advised the Trusts “to demonstrate efficiency and expertise in executing projects using means that amplify standard and quality and ensuring that the allocated funds are used for impactful initiatives that address the identified needs of the communities.”

In an address, the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Mr. Gbenga Komolafe, described the SPDC-operated joint venture as ‘first among peers’ for the early incorporation of 22 out of a total 33 community trusts.

Represented by NUPRC’s Assistant Director, Host Community, Mr. Olatokunbo Karimu, Komolafe said: “It is our hope that the peace and harmony exhibited by the communities under the HCDTs will be sustained during the day-to-day management of the affairs of Trusts, to address the developmental needs of impacted host communities in oil-producing areas.”

Chairman of one of the Trusts, Chief Mike Enwukwe, who responded on behalf of his colleagues, said the trustees would serve with diligence and accountability to continue to earn the confidence and cooperation of communities.

The PIA was enacted in August 2021 and is changing the interface between oil companies and their host communities. SPDC, on behalf of the joint venture, is managing a seamless transition from the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) initiative which it introduced in 2006, to the new dispensation. The process includes engaging hundreds of communities and community leaders on the provisions of the PIA.

While oil companies are expected to fund the Community Trusts from three per cent of their operating expenditure in the preceding year, the PIA penalises acts of vandalism, sabotage, and civil unrest by communities with appropriate deductions from the allocated funds.

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