Mr. Timipre Sylva, Minister of state for Petroleum and Natural Resources

By Kelvin Peter – Warri

The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) worldwide has called on the federal government to revoke the operating license given to Heritage Energy Operational Services Limited HEOSL.

The group says the company is incompetent and lacks the finance to manage the asset as well as other responsibilities.

IYC alleged that Heritage Energy Operational Services Limited (HEOSL), operators of Oil Mining Lease (OML) 30, has failed to indigenous contractors that worked for the company for over two years.

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IYC President, Eric Omare, while addressing a press conference in Warri, claimed that Heritage’s board of directors has subsidiary companies which it contract jobs to and pay on completion, to the detriment of locals.

“The Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) has ‘failed in its responsibilities’, if not addressed, may lead to disruption of the company’s operations.”

“The HEOSL has become a ‘monster and curse’ to its host communities, I wonder why things became worse with indigenous companies taking over from oil multinationals.”

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“With the law giving rights to Nigerians to participate in the oil and gas industry, there should also be a corresponding benefit to the local communities which produce these resources. We decided to raise a message to the appropriate authorities before the situation will degenerate to chaos.

“We have situations whereby local contractors will do jobs for this company. In some cases, because the company does not have the guaranty to secure loan, some have to secure loan with their property. But this company does not pay these local contractors for up to two and three years.

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“While they refuse to pay local contractors, they pay their own companies. In order words, the company has a board of directors who have subsidiary companies with which they take contracts that ordinarily ought to go to local contractors. And when it is time to pay for jobs, instead of paying the local contractors, they pay themselves.

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“The implication is that money which should be spent on the local economy is transported outside the Niger Delta and out of the country. The resultant effect is the overwhelming poverty that we are seeing in the Delta environment and its potential to create militancy.

“President Muhammadu Buhari should direct the Minister of Petroleum Resources to revoke HEOSL’s operating license.

“Beside contract is the employment of our youths. We are a youth organisation and when our people are employed, it reduces the pressure on leadership. But the current trend is that oil mining license holders employ only their people at the detriment of the local youths who have the requisite qualification to be employed.

“We feel these are serious issues. The militancy that happened in the past started with small pockets of protests with military repression in return. But where you don’t nip it in the bud, it will degenerate into a situation whereby people will resort to destroying oil facilities and other negative activities. We feel we don’t have to get to that level before we raise alarm.

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“With specific reference to Heritage Energy Operational Services Limited, operators of OML 30, we call on the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, to revoke HEOSL’s operative license because it is not competent and does not have the resources to manage an oil mining lease.”

In reaction, the Heritage Energy Operational Services Limited (HEOSL), operator of Oil Mining Lease (OML) 30 says the company is not indebted to any of its contractors.

The company also dismissed claims that it was incompetent and unfit to operate OML30 which is the second largest OML after Nembe in the country.

HEOSL made the clarification in a statement made available to our correspondent on Tuesday in Warri, in its reaction to the claims made by the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC).

HEOSL on behalf of its Joint Venture Partners, the Nigeria Petroleum Development Corporation (NPDC) and Shoreline Natural Resources Limited (SNRL), urged the public to disregard IYC claims.

The statement stressed that, “when it took over operations of OML 30, it inherited many invoices and ongoing contracts. The company noticed that while some of the invoices could be verified, there were some that could not. Despite this, the company went ahead and commenced with the payment of verified invoices while investigating others.

“The volume of the debts necessitated the development in conjunction with contractors of payment plans for installment payments. Since then, the company has been steadily reducing the debts according to the agreed payment plans.

“This clarification came in response to allegations by the Ijaw Youth Council at a recent press briefing to the effect that the company is owing contractors, some for as long as three years.

“The company took over the operation of OML 30 in 2017 to revitalise production in a sustainable manner. The vision of the company is to be the lowest cost operator per barrel and partner of choice to its stakeholders.

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“Since taking over the asset, the company has more greatly increased production output from OML 30. The company has also been able to reduce to a large extent the level of oil theft along the Trans Forcados Pipeline there by saving revenue for the Federal Government.

“It paid over N2.3 billion in taxes to government between 2017 and 2019.

“HEOSL signed a Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) with host communities in October 2018 to guide how the company and the community can work together to create understanding and cooperation towards consolidating a mutually beneficial relationship.

“As part of its commitment to its host communities, the company has been providing scholarships worth over N181 million per annum to students from its host communities”, the statement added.