House of Reps to Halt IOCs from Selling Oil Assets
By Adedapo Adesanya
The House of Representatives has pledged to stop international oil companies (IOCs) operating in the Niger Delta from divestment of their offshore assets without being accountable to the environment.
The Chairman of the House of Reps Committee on Host Communities, Mr Dumnamene Dekor, said this during a technical session on the implementation of the Host Communities Development Trusts (HCDT), organised by Spaces for Change (S4C) with support from Ford Foundation.
Mr Dekor raised the alarm that since the passage of the Petroleum Industry Act in 2021, host communities have not experienced any positive change, rather have remained poor despite playing host to critical national assets; regretting that instead of IOCs to ensure full implementation of the PIA, they were on the move to divest.
He assured that the committee would use the law to ensure that those companies do not leave until they correct all the wrongs they have done in their host communities.
According to him, the team understands that many IOCs have started divesting from offshore, but noted that the House would not allow the process to be completed without responsibility.
He said, “I understand that some of them (IOCs) are beginning to divest very quickly, we will also make sure that we stop some of those divestments so that the people can benefit.
“Take for example, you cannot mess up an environment, degrade it to the level that it is, and then suddenly you begin to divest. When you divest you leave all that you have done and walk away.
“This committee will liaise and form partnerships with those affected host communities, to make sure that whether Shell or any other oil company are brought to account. We want people from host communities to begin to reap the benefits of oil and gas.”
The Committee also noted that the Host Community Development Trust implemented by some oil firms was not functional, explaining that oil-producing communities in Niger Delta have not started getting benefits from the PIA.
He said: “By the enactment of the PIA in 2021, this is 2023 and we have not seen the host communities stop complaining, meaning that the HCDTs are not operational.
“In most cases where they (oil companies) claim that they have inaugurated the HCDT, they have not started getting the benefit of the law and it leaves the people of host communities in the same way they have always been, and of course as a committee, we will stop at nothing in ensuring that the law is being obeyed.
“This means that all the regulatory agencies and oil companies must as a matter of urgency begin to take appropriate steps in ensuring that host communities are not allowed to continue wallowing in abject poverty, while they produce all that we need to oil the engine of the country, yet they have nothing to show for it.
“That is why the House and Senate came together to ensure that that law came into being. Yes, as I said, the PIA is not completely addressing the issues, just like every other law, but it is a watershed where we begin to feel that something has been put in place to guide the entire operations of the oil industry, and so it is an opportunity to call on NUPRC and all other regulators to ensure the oil companies do the right thing.”