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TotalEnergies Faces Protests, Threats From Host Communities

By Yemi Olakitan

Residents of Egi-Obagi settlements are actively posing threats to the oil company TotalEnergies.

They mostly make threats in response to TotalEnergies’ refusal to work with particular members of their community to create a Host Communities Development Trust Fund.

The company’s oil production operations could be affected if this demand is not complied with.

According to a source, members of the Egi-Obagi village in Rivers State organised a protest on Monday outside the TotalEnergies branch office in Port Harcourt.

Target of this protest was TotalEnergies, which runs OML 58 in the Ogba/Egbema/Udoni local government area of Rivers State.

Particularly, the demonstrators were against TotalEnergies’ inauguration of the Advisory Board for the Host Communities Development Trust Fund.

Ebenezer Hart Eleba, the head of the Egi Oil and Gas Host Community and the protest’s organiser, explained the rationale for their assembly and subsequent demonstration during the protest.

He stated: “We are here to present the Managing Director with the court order that TotalEnergies was issued in the past prohibiting them from dealing with any Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) individuals brought from the Egi Host cluster. Those people have been rejected, and we will continue to reject them.

However, it appears that the Legal Manager is still corresponding with them despite having seen the court ruling.

To that end, we are cautioning TotalEnergies once more: if they continue to interact with those people after today’s service, they will face legal repercussions. They are not obeying the landlords, so we will go and block their facilities.

Anthony Chinasa Brown, a local, said that the demonstrators explicitly highlighted one Okechukwu Obara as someone they did not want to be a part of the PIA Fund setup.

In order to prevent future proceedings, other locals urged the corporation to follow the court’s ruling.

On behalf of the business, Henry Ehuike, Manager for Stakeholder Engagement at TotalEnergies, accepted the document from the community members.

He informed the demonstrators that he was in no position to speak on behalf of the business and that his only responsibility was to receive the letter, which he had previously done.

The Host Communities Development Trust Fund was established in accordance with the terms of the 2021 Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).

By ensuring that the direct social and economic advantages resulting from petroleum operations are efficiently directed to these areas, this project aims to strategically develop sustainable prosperity within host communities.

It attempts to promote an environment of harmonious coexistence and peace between licensees or lessees and the local community where they carry out their business.

Significant steps have been taken to establish this Development Trust Fund in some host communities, particularly those close to OML 58, starting in the year 2022.

This is due to the fact that oil operators must accelerate the process in order to completely realise industry ambitions.

Recall what the Managing Director, Mike Sangster, said in November 2021 at a meeting of the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists:

The Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) is anticipated to, among other things, remove regulatory and legal barriers, draw important investments, liberate financial resources, hasten the creation of local content, and improve employment.The PIA implementation needs to be sped up, it’s a fact.

Investment opportunities in fossil fuels are becoming more limited. Very few years would be left for Nigeria to establish its petroleum industry and usher in the prosperous and transitional era of energy that the world envisions.

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