ExxonMobil, Chevron Keep Mum
International Oil Companies (IOCs) operating in the country have said that the issue of relocating their headquarters to the Niger Delta region as directed by the Federal Government, does not arise, as they already have offices and operations in the area.
Although, American oil giant – ExxonMobil and Chevron, could not comment on the issue, other IOCs noted that they have never really relocated from Niger Delta region, therefore the issue of relocation does not arise.
The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, had directed the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, “to engage” the IOCs “on the way forward” over repeated calls for the relocation of their head offices to the states where they produce oil from.
Most of the IOCs in Nigeria were thought to have their headquarters in Lagos, South West of the country, hundreds of kilometers away from the oil-rich Niger Delta region.
Experts and stakeholders believe that the Federal Government order should go beyond relocation order to solving militancy and insecurity in the Niger Delta region.
Responding to The Guardian enquiry, Shell’s Media Relations Manager, Precious Okolobo said: “I can confirm that the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) has its headquarters in Port Harcourt, River State capital.”
Also, the Deputy General Manager Media & Public Affairs, Total Nigeria, Mr. Charles Ogan, insisted that Total has its headquarters in Port Harcourt, saying the issue of relocation has nothing to do with the company.
“We are still very much around in the Niger Delta region. We did not at any time leave the Niger Delta and we are not planning to leave,” he said. Reacting to the relocation order by the Vice President, Senior Vice President, Centre for Values in Leadership (CVL), Rasheed Adegbenro, stressed the need for the Federal Government to provide adequate security of lives and facilities before enforcing the relocation order.
He said: “Until the Federal Government is able to totally tackle the issue of militancy in the Niger Delta, it should not force the IOCs to engage in risky activities. One needs to understand why the oil companies left the areas. If they shut down operations due to militancy, you cannot force them to come back. They are here to do business and not to die,
“They are at liberty in choosing where they want to be operating from. They can operate from anywhere, most especially, when they have to confront the militants on almost on daily basis. By compelling them to go and you are not able to provide the necessary security, they may exit this country.
“We have to be more realistic in respect to the types of conditions we are churning out to investors.”Former President of Petroleum Technonlogy Association of Nigeria, Emeka Ene, who welcomed the decision, however added, “The concept of relocation of IOCs is a good one, provided it includes a commitment from the states where the oil field activities take place to guarantee security and property rights of the companies.”
Former President of Ijaw National Congress (INC), Kimse Okoko said the directive by the Federal Government was belated. According to him, “It is a normal thing to do. Texas did it. It is expedient that oil companies stay in the location they operate from. In Texas they did that, I do not see any reason why it should not be done here in Nigeria”.
Okoko pointed out that the move would boost the economy of region because the oil firms will pay taxes and their corporate social responsibility will become more visible.
Also speaking, an Abuja-based Consultant and analyst, Ifeanyi Izeze, described the government’s order on relocation of IOCs offices to the Niger Delta region, as a step in the right direction.
Izeze stated: “The Federal Government should go beyond giving orders and solve the issue of insecurity. Government should assure the IOCs that their personnel working in the region would be safe. Government should also fulfill its promises to the Niger Delta people. When government’s promise to them are fulfilled, militancy will be a thing of the past in the Niger Delta region.”
The Executive Secretary, Lubricant Producers Association of Nigeria (LUPAN), Emeka Obidike, said that relocation of headquarters of IOCs to the Niger Delta, will enable the companies engage more in corporate social responsibility.
He added that it would also bring about development and provision of social amenities in the areas.He noted that the IOC’s presence in the Niger Delta would put pressure on the Federal Government to enforce peace in the region.
Obidike commended the government for engaging in peace negotiation with the Niger Delta people, saying that this should prove to the IOCs that the Federal Government is serious about peace in the region