Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) has described the occupation of its Belema flow station and gas plant in Kula Kingdom, Rivers State by host communities as a “safety risk” to its operations.
The Belema flow station has been occupied since August 11, 2017, by residents of the Belema and Offoin-Ama communities, who have camped out night and day at the facility.
In a statement released on Sunday, SPDC said it was “deeply concerned that unauthorized persons (including women and children) have been observed in close proximity to equipment that processes crude oil and gas without the protection of safety clothing that is mandatory for people working or accessing such restricted areas.”
"SPDC had carried out an emergency shutdown of production ahead of the illegal occupation but has been unable to access the facilities since then to ensure a safe shutdown over a prolonged period.
“The continued illegal occupation for several days exposes people at the plant to higher safety risks, as anything could trigger a spill or fire with potentially serious consequences,” the company warned.
"Meanwhile, SPDC remains committed to the development of the Niger Delta, especially host communities including Belema and Kula. The SPDC JV partners have contributed $29b to the economic growth of Nigeria between 2012–2016. The SPDC JV is also currently supporting various GMoU Cluster Development Boards in the Niger Delta and mentoring NGOs to deploy a total of N7b for development projects of host communities’ choice under the GMoU program.”
The Belema flow station produces about 35 barrels of crude oil per day.
SaharaReporters learned that the protesters have vowed to continue their resistance until Shell relinquishes their land so it can be used by a local company.