Akwa Ibom Youths Barricade Exxon Oil Terminal

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July 7th, 2014

Operations of Exxon Mobil, a multinational firm has been shut down by protesting youths from the host communities in Ibeno, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria following what they described as recurrent oil spills and strings of unfulfilled promises made to the communities.

LEADERSHIP gathered that the angry youths who barricaded the main entrances to ExxonMobil’s Quo Iboe Terminal (QIT) said they will never leave the area until the company commences proper remediation on the environment and fulfil promises it made after past oil spills.

The Secretary of Youth Presidents Forum and President of Iwuokpom community youth where ExxonMobil jetty is located, Mr. David Okon noted that the protest was sparked off following the most recent spill which occurred on Thursday when thunder struck the QIT tank farm and one of the crude oil-laden tanks went up in flames.

According to, Okon several hundred barrels of crude spilled over Mkpanak community and into 26 other communities in the area, spanning over 35 kilometers.

He said, “Our grievance is that since last year, there was an oil spill at the QIT that flowed from Inuaeyet Ikot village to Okposo, about 35 kilometers along the coastline towards Mbo local government area. Since then, Mobil has refused to clean up our environment. They issued and acknowledgement letter to indicate that their tank busted.

“Mobil knows the impact of oil spill and the damage it has done to aquatic life and the water table and the entire environment. When a major spill occurred last December, they promised to provide relief materials to our people and also pay compensation. Up till now, they have not done anything in that regard. Last week, two of the tanks got burnt and crude flowed into our communities.”

Okon lamented that, while a walk along the shoreline would show dead fishes scattered all over the area, it was becoming so difficult a task for the people to fish.

“People are hungry and angry and that is why we have come here to draw the attention of the world to what Exxon Mobil has been doing to our communities”, he added.

Corroborating Okon’s position on the matter, a community leader in Ibenno, Chief Williams Mkpa who admitted that the people of the area have scores to settle with ExxonMobil over cases of oil spillage lamented that the economic mainstay of people of the area has been greatly affected by the spill.

He said, “When similar incidents happen, the community usually agitates for cleanup and adequate compensation.

But in its usual way, ExxonMobil has refused to respond to those requests because they don’t have the interest of the people at heart. In the past 44 years of their operations, the company only compensated us in 1998 when they declared 55 barrel spill and paid N350 million to our communities”.

He noted that because they were aware of the effects of gas flaring to the immediate environment, staff of ExxonMobil do not live in Ibeno communities, as the oil firm chose to locate its housing estate in Eket, about 20 kilometers away.

Mkpa said the intervention of the state Governor, Godswill Akpabio did not yield any positive result in the matter, as the company has deliberately refused to respect the agreement brokered by the government since 2012.

Mkpa further chided those opposed to resource control, saying that if Ibeno people had a say in how ExxonMobil is being operated, some of the damaging impacts of their operations could have been mitigated.

He, therefore, appealed to the National Conference and the National Assembly to take urgent steps to ensure that oil producing areas in the country were given a stake in oil exploration and production.

Mr. Mkpa also lamented that over 95 percent of staff in ExxonMobil are from other parts of the country and challenged the company to publish the list of its top management staff toshow how many people from the host communities it has engaged.

On its part, ExxonMobil explained that Mobil Producing Nigeria unlimted, operator of the NNPC/MPN joint venture said it has activated our emergency response systems and contained the release, with all relevant regulatory authorities and community leaders notified.

The company’s spokesperson, Akaninyene Esiere in an email stated: “MPN remains committed to environmentally safe operations. Subject to a detailed site inspection, our current estimate is that approximately 12 barrels of oil was released during the incident. All relevant regulatory authorities and community leaders have been notified.

“We are working with community leaders to gain access to the impacted area and continue to work to ensure the impacted area is remediated. Offshore production and loading operations are continuing.”

 

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