Stakeholders from Bayelsa State have commended the Military Task Force code named Operation Delta Safe and the Oil Pipeline surveilance contractors for the synergy that has led to the drastic reduction of sabotage against oil facilities in the last two years.
According to the Stakeholders, made up of enviromentalists, Civil Right Activists and Community leaders, the synergy between local surveillance groups and the security agencies deployed to protect oil infrastructure was responsible for the reduction in cases of bomb attacks,armed invasion and distruption of oil production by oil multinationals operating in the region.
Messrs Ayibapreye Yengizifa, an Environmentalist and Comrade Samuel Odusi have expressed delight on the contributions of community based surveillance contractors in curbing oil theft.
Yengizifa, who examined the scenario at Bayelsa oilfields, in an interview in Yenagoa, noted that the frequency of attacks on oil facilities has nose dived in the past two years.
He attributed the decline in oil theft and sabotage incidents on oil facilities to the synergy between local surveillance groups and the security agencies deployed to protect oil infrastructure.
He said that observations at oilfields operated by Aiteo and Agip where such local surveillance groups were retained show that the synergy between security agencies and surveillance contractors was yielding results.
“As an Environmentalist and Animal Scientist, the effects of oil spills and resultant pollutions are well known and have remained a concern for a very long time”.
“The impact of a change of strategy by some oil firms operating in Bayelsa namely Aiteo and Agip in bringing local people into the pipeline surveillance space is positive.
“The combined efforts of the surveillance contractors and the military has proved effective because the community based surveillance personnel know the terrain and the people that reside there”.
“Their joint patrols and raids based on credible local intelligence has resulted to seizure of large volumes of stolen crude and destruction of illegal refinery sites and this is a welcome relief.
“Previous templates of giving pipeline surveillance contracts failed because the contractors and their personnel were strange to the oilfields they were supposed to protect”.
“However, the new approach deployed by Aiteo and Agip is very effective and successful, the contracting process ensured that firms and personnel conversant with the terrain were retained to do the job.”
“The results so far achieved show that much more can be achieved if the template is used by other oil firms operating in Bayelsa and indeed across the entire region.”
“In addition to the economic benefits, combating oil theft and the pollutions that come with it is a welcome relief to the environment,“ Yengizifa said.
Odusi, a Community Rights Activist urged the oil firms and governments at all levels to sustain the current efforts by further investments in clean up, remediation and pollution control activities.
He noted that there was need to review the community development strategy deployed by oil companies as the funds oil firms spend on projects have marginal impacts on the target audience.
“A typical example is Oloibiri where the story of oil started for Nigeria and indeed the West African Sub region, Shell Claims to have spent staggering amounts on what they call the Oloibiri Health Project.
“If you visit the Oloibiri Communities in Ogbia Local Government Area you will realize that such figures merely exist on paper.
“The neglect of oil bearing communities should be stopped so that the sabotage of oil pipelines due to the perceived injustice by the host communities would also stop,” Odusi said.
The Activist urged the federal government to review the mode of releasing the 13 per cent derivation funds to ensure that the impact is felt by oil bearing communities in the Niger Delta region.