The House of Representatives has urged the Federal Government, especially the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) to suspend the planned auction and sale of the oil mining licence (OML) 11 asset until relevant issues are resolved with the host communities.
The House mandated its committee on petroleum upstream to urgently investigate the planned auction among other matters, and report back within four weeks for further legislative action.
These resolutions followed the adoption of a motion of urgent national importance sponsored by Victor Mela from Gombe at the plenary, Wednesday.
The NPDC upstream subsidiary company of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL) had in August resumed oil exploration activities at oil mining lease (OML) 11.
OML 11 host communities, comprising the Ogonis and Asa on the Imo River axis in Rivers and Abia States, had warned the Federal Government against re-issuing the facility to any operator without wider consultation.
They insisted on being carried along in the processes leading to the eventual re-issuance of the oil well to any operator and called on NPDC to dialogue with them before granting the operating licence.
Moving the motion, Mela noted that the oil field under oil mining license 11 was formerly operated by the Shell petroleum development company (SPDC) joint venture and had laid idle since the oil company was forced out of Ogoniland in 1993.
Mela also cited a court of appeal judgement on August 16, 2021, in which the SPDC joint venture lost its right to renewal of the operating licence.
The lawmaker expressed worry that “there are unresolved issues between the government and the host communities of Ogoni, which is currently fuelling resistance and restiveness amongst the people.”
He expressed concerns over claims that “the government is involved in under the table arrangements to auction OML 11 assets to Sahara Energy Limited for $250 million as against the $1billion offered by the SPDC.”
Mela stated further that there was a need to urgently clarify and resolve issues associated with the planned auction among other matters.
Meanwhile, the House adjourned plenary to January 17, 2023 to enable lawmakers observe the New Year festivities.