The lawmaker representing Yenagoa/Kolokuma/Opokuma Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Professor Steve Azaiki has backed moves by Governor Douye Diri to recover the Atala Marginal Oil Licence (OML 46) for Bayelsa State.
The federal government recently revoked the licence for alleged non-performance, which has generated a lot of controversies.
Azaiki in a statement issued in Abuja on Thursday, July 15, asked the federal government to revisit the revocation and reinstate the licence back to Bayelsa State.
Prof. Azaiki urged the Federal Ministry of Justice; Ministry of Petroleum Resources; the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to reconsider the action and commence the process to return the Atala Oil Field to the state.
He maintained that Bayelsa State could not afford to forfeit its only oil licence, stressing that reinstatement of the licence, would boost investment, employment opportunities and internal revenues in the state, “especially, in the face of the current dwindling allocations accruing from the Federal Government”.
The former Secretary to the Bayelsa State Government noted that the state has been one of the key producers of crude oil and gas since 1956 and the federal government as well as oil companies, have made incalculable profits from the state, amid attendant environmental damage, but without commensurate benefits.
He maintained that revenues from Bayelsa and other states in the Niger Delta, have also served as the mainstay of the nation’s economy for about six decades, which is a major reason for the revocation of the Atala License to be reconsidered.
Prof. Azaiki, recalled that similar treatment of revocation, was meted out on Malabo, in which a Bayelsan, Chief Dan Etete, one of the few indigenes holding oil exploration licence, has a major stake, but the company and its partners later won the case in a foreign court.
Azaiki, therefore, wants the federal government not to add more salt to injury, but should instead, revert the withdrawal of the Atala License, and hand over the oil field to Bayelsa State, to give the people a sense of belonging in the oil industry.
Nigerdeltaconnect investigations however reveal that returning the Atala Oil Field back to Bayelsa may not be as easy as just making a verbal request and expect to get it back.
Our source disclosed that the state may have to wait till another bidding outing, put its act together and re-bid for it, adding that if the state’s bid has merit it will get it back.