Nathan Tamarapreye, Yenagoa
The Bayelsa Progressive Vanguard (BPV) has hailed the efforts of the Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, in retrieving and restoring the state’s licence on the Atala Oil Field, OML 46, which was unjustly revoked by the defunct Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) in 2020.
BPV said despite the politics and greed that led to the revocation predating his administration, governor Douye Diri on the assumption of office was determined to bring back the licence out of his sense of patriotism, love and passion for the development of Bayelsa.
The group in a statement signed by its Coordinator, Daniel Amansitei, said Diri took the matter to court challenging the rationale behind revoking the licence of Bayelsa Oil Company (BOC) Limited to operate the field and awarding it to one Halkin Exploration and Production Limited.
Amansitei said the governor pursued the case relentlessly using other channels and was able to get the Senate to probe the circumstances which led to the diversion of the licence.
He said: “It is instructive to note that the Senate knocked the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) for the curious transfer of the licence to another company without a written directive from President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the substantive Minister of Petroleum Resources.
“It is obvious that our licence had been stolen before the intervention of our governor. Some forces had completed the stealing of our marginal oil field and would have been enjoying the proceeds if not for the commitment and dedication of Governor Diri”.
Amansitei said Diri completed the takeover of the oil well when he led a high-powered delegation to meet with President Buhari at the villa and tabled the Atala oil field controversy before the President among other issues.
“In fact, Bayelsans rejoiced when the President immediately directed the return of the licence to Bayelsa. Governor Diri’s efforts have yielded the required dividends”, he said.
Amansitei, however, queried the presence of former Governor Seriake Dickson describing him as Pontius Pilate among the delegation that visited Buhari to discuss the Atala oil field matter saying the former governor lacked the locus to partake in such discussions.
He said: “We are not naive and the fact that former Governor Seriake Dickson showed his face in that picture of the delegation does not absolve him of explaining his roles in the internal crisis in BOC that led to the current controversies in Atala marginal field. Dickson owes Bayelsans an explanation.
“He should stop playing to the gallery and come clean by telling us the truth. The question begging for answer is, who orchestrated the attempt to remove the Century Oil and Gas Services, a co-operator of the marginal field, and to replace it with Halkim Global Services (HGS)? This crisis erupted during the administration of Dickson and we are calling on him to tell us his roles”.
Amansitei further described it as shameful and selfish that it was during the time of former Governor Timipre Sylva as the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources that such asset belonging to his state within a sector he supervises was stolen.
He said: “We are constrained to call on Buhari to set up a probe panel to investigate the roles of Sylva in the diversion of the OML46 licence belonging to Bayelsa. How can an oil well licence be revoked and immediately re-awarded to another company without a written directive from President Buhari? What is Sylva’s interest in Halkin Exploration and Production Limited?
“Our investigation revealed that the application for the licence to be awarded to Halkin was received by Sylva on March 8,2021 and curiously he gave his approval on the same day. What is his interest?”
“While we commend Diri for successfully restoring our licence, we must interrogate the roles of the two former governors of the state, Seriake Dickson and Timipre Sylva in the shrouded circumstances and their subterranean role that led to the loss of the licence in the first place”.