The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), operator of the SPDC joint venture, has unveiled eight Host Community Development Trusts (HCDTs) in Bayelsa State, a critical step for unlocking $56.13 million earmarked for the development of the host communities in line with the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021.
The international oil company (IOC) said the $56.13 million represents funds to be paid this year by the SPDC JV and Shell’s deep-water subsidiary -Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (SNEPCo) as contribution to HCDTs.
Shell said in a statement that the bold step in the implementation of the provisions of the PIA earned commendation from the Bayelsa State government, regulators, partners as well as communities for what was regarded as an industry milestone.
The company explained that the eight Trusts were among the 22 that had been incorporated in SPDC JV’s areas of operation in Imo, Delta, Rivers and Bayelsa states, representing more than half of the total 41 which the Nigeria Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) has so far approved for host communities.
Commenting on the development, Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State, who was represented at the unveiling ceremony in Yenagoa by the state’s Commissioner for Mineral Resources, Dr. Ibieri Jones, said: “This is indeed a milestone which will ensure progress of the communities.
“No meaningful development can take place without an enabling environment. With dialogue we can always resolve issues and that is the only way it will take the region to where we want it to be.”
However, with its knowledge of the Niger Delta from over 60 years of operations, SPDC is managing a seamless transition from the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) initiative which it introduced in 2006 to HCDTs, a key provision of the PIA enacted in August 2021.
SPDC engaged more than 300 communities on the provisions of the Act, their roles and responsibilities, the obligations of oil and gas companies and facilitated grouping of communities and nominations for trustees. It also assisted in the development of a needs assessment and development plan for communities.
Stakeholders at the unveiling ceremony charged the incorporated Community Trusts to work towards development in the Niger Delta through peaceful co-existence and collaboration with oil companies.
In his remarks, SPDC Managing Director and Chairman, Shell companies in Nigeria, Mr. Osagie Okunbor, said in an address read by the General Manager, Corporate Relations, Igo Weli, that the PIA would not deliver the intended development if “communities allow internal strife and chieftaincy struggles to negatively impact the setting up of or operations of the Trusts.”