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UPDATED: How Heritage Oil’s Mgt Award Multi-million Contract To Themselves, Rip Off Local Contractors – IYC

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Foremost ijaw youth organization, Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) worldwide, has revealed how the management and board of directors of Heritage Energy Operational Services Limited, operator of OML 30 allegedly pay themselves hundreds of millions of naira contract awarded to themselves to the detriment of indigenous contractors who borrowed money from banks to execute their projects.

President of IYC, Eric Omare, a lawyer who said he has been inundated with complaint by local contractors from the Niger Delta region, made the allegation while addressing newsmen at the Warri Correspondents Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists on Thursday.

Omare said that the management and board of directors of Heritage had overtime violated the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act, maintaining that Heritage Oil Company owes local contractors who already executed jobs monies running into millions of naira and had refused to pay despite series of protests and correspondence by the local contractors.

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He said that Heritage has grown to become a ‘monster’ in the Niger Delta following their deviant attitude to payment of local contractors.

“We are confronted with a company that has become a monster to the Urhobo, Isoko, Itsekiri and Ijaw people. As a leader of the biggest youth organization in the region, we decided to raise a message to the appropriate authorities before the situation will degenerate to chaos”, IYC said.

According to the youth leader, Oml 30 is the second largest OML in the whole of Nigeria and second to the one that covers Nembe area, but it has become a curse instead of a blessing to the communities.

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Omare said, “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 properties. But this company do not pay these local contractors for up to two, three years.

“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 the local contractors. And when it is time to pay jobs, instead of paying the local contractors, they pay themselves.

“The implication is instead of that money to be spent in the local environment here, it is transported outside the Niger Delta region and most cases, out of the country.

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President of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide, Eric Omare (Eqs) addressing journalists in Warri, Delta state

“The resultant effect is the overwhelming poverty that we are seeing in the Delta environment and its potential to create militancy in the region. In most cases, people resort to militancy because they do not have a means of survival. You experienced Warri and Delta state when Shell and other multinationals were operating. Even if things were not rosy, things were better than it is with the taking over of these assets by the local companies owned by Nigerians.

Omare berated Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act for their failure to checkmate activities of the oil prospecting companies in the region who had persistently violated the Act.

“We had thought that local content will improve the livelihood of our people. But what we are experiencing a complete reverse. Oil prospecting license holders are not only managing those oil prospective license but they are also now contractors who take all the jobs that ought to go to local communities and who only pay themselves instead of paying local contractors. We felt we should let the world know. We call on Mr. President to do what is proper.

“Apart from contract is the unemployment of our youths. We are a youth organization, when our people are employed; it reduces the pressure on leadership. But what we are experiencing now is that those oil prospecting license holders, because they are from outside the Niger Delta, they employ only their people at the detriment of the local youths who have the requisite qualification to be employed.

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“We feel these are very serious issues that if not addressed, 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. Some of us feel we do not need to wait to get to that level before we raise alarm.

Omare said that the local content board that ought to monitor and implement local content law including the community content has failed in its responsibilities.

IYC therefore called on the federal government to revoke the operational license of Heritage Oil Limited for incompetency and possible bankruptcy.

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“Secondly, with specific reference to Heritage Operational Services Limited, operators of OML 30. We are calling on the federal government of Nigeria, through the ministry of petroleum resources, to revoke their operational license because they are not competent and do not have the resources to manage an oil mining lease.

“A situation where people take loans and you cannot pay contractors, people are dying of poverty, it simply shows that company lacks the requisite financial ability to operate an OML. We are calling on the federal government to revoke the OML awarded to Heritage to manage OML 30 because they are not competent and financially buoyant.

“If something is not done about it, we see a situation whereby their operations may be disrupted and there may be violent reactions to their repressions on our communities”, he added.

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When contacted, Mr. Sylvester Okoh, General Manager, Community Relations of Heritage Oil Company, said that he is not in the position to speak on the issue.

“Unfortunately I am not in right position to speak on the issue. Again, I don’t have details of what you are asking or talking about”.

He promised to get back to our reporter who had called his mobile line persistently but did not do so as of press time.

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