Scores of Youths and women from Koluama communities and satellite camps in the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State on Monday invaded the crude oil production facility owned by the Conoil
Producing Limited over its alleged refusal to renew an expired Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) it had with the host communities.
The breached oil facility known as Angle 2 field, operated by Conoil since 2012, has a crude production capacity of over 30,000 barrels per day.
The angry residents stormed the facility around 1 pm on Tuesday armed with placards with inscriptions such as “No GMoU, No Crude oil exploration”, Conoil pack, and Go, We are tired of suffering” and “Koluama people are suffering”.
They demanded that the facility should stop all operations peacefully.
Despite the heavy presence of armed soldiers and other security personnel, the officials of Conoil obliged and shut down its operation. The noticeable gas flaring was put off.
The protesting Koluama indigenes however vowed to occupy the oil platform until their demands on scholarships and education issues, employment of indigenes, and the provision of electricity through the building of turbine was met by the company through the signing of a new and workable GMoU.
The Youth President of Koluama Community, Comrade Kiwei Emmanuel Philip, told newsmen that the community was tired of the manipulation of the Conoil management since the former GMoU expired over 14 months ago.
"We have come here to occupy and sack the Conoil. They are operating in our community without a GMoU. Our people do not even have a person working in the company at the moment. We cannot accommodate them anymore,” he said.
The women, led by China Ezekhia, said the women and the youths were suffering as most of them were unemployed.
The Oil and Gas Chairman of Koluama communities, Ebimielayefa Dick Ogbeyan, while addressing the security personnel on duty, said the communities had embarked on the action because all efforts to seek an amicable settlement had failed.
"From inception, Conoil has never employed our indigene. We sat together and agreed on a GMoU, but they failed to implement it all. And now, it expired over 14 months ago and they have refused to sign another one," she said.
“We have done all that is needed to be done but they refused. We have met with leaders of security agencies, governments, and other stakeholders to prevail on Conoil but they refused. The stakeholders agreed with us on this action. The community wants them to pack peacefully, We know we are not getting anything and we are not expecting anything. They cannot be getting so much from oil exploration from our land and we are not getting anything.
“We are here to carefully and peacefully ask them to pack without bloodshed. There should be no quarrel or fighting. The people of Koluama communities are tired of Conoil.”