By ENWONO-ABASI ELISHA
“Sterling Global took 1000 hectares of our mangrove for its Petrochemical Chemical plant and even push forward for more 700 hectares. Now they want to pay compensation and relocate our people who have stayed for 137 years to another place. The Governor suggested that the people of Ikonta-Obianga be relocated to ONNA LGA where they have a massive land. How will our people be taken to a different land?
“When Sterling Global came to Ikonta-Obianga, they used the Committee to oppress the people. The place they vacated the fishermen, they only paid peanut. It is not everybody who will refuse to take money and do the right thing.
“We know after payment of the compensation, the land will be automatically Company’s land. So that anytime the Company leaves, Government will take over our land for their business and our people will be displaced for ever.” – Ayagwung Joshua Matthew (Regent) Okama-Elect, Village Head Emere-oke II, Eastern Obolo LGA.
SEEPCO, Sterling Oil Exploration and Energy Production Company Limited presence in Akwa Ibom State has raised more tension and fear amongst host communities compared to past exploration activities of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) in the area.
The Company’s web of confusion on the locals is as a result of host communities’ vulnerability caused by poverty. The Company sees this as an added advantage to turn the people against themselves. State Government and few elites scramble for the spoils at the expense of the majority of the people.
• Sterling Oil, SEEPCO
Sterling Oil Exploration and Energy Production Company Limited (SEEPCO) is the Financing and Technical Services provider developing an old Oil Mining Lease (OML) 13 on behalf of Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, (NPDC). The asset was formerly operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC).
The deal is between SEEPCO and NPDC, the exploration and production arm of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is worth $3.15 billion for the Financing and Technical Services Agreement (FTSA) of the oil asset located in the eastern axis of the Niger Delta covering a total area of 1987km². The FTSA is for a period of 15 years and the $3.15 billion ceiling funding would be provided by SEEPCO with a 10-year capital investment period and five years for cost recovery.
The Federal Government is expected to make $10.2 billion in royalties and taxes while the NNPC would earn over $5 billion after payment of the entire financing obligation.
OML 13 acreage has over 926 million stock tank barrels (mmstb) and 5.24 trillion cubic feet (tcf) respectively of oil and gas reserves.
First oil of about 7,900bpd was expected from the project by 1st April, 2020, while production is expected to peak at 94,000bpd and 542mmscfd within four years.
According to the 2018 annual report of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (former Department of Petroleum Resources), shows that NPDC holds 100% equity distribution of OML 13 license which was granted on December 20, 2016, to expire on December 19, 2036, twenty (20) years period.
SEEPCO, has been active in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry since 2006 and has made a name, not for good as it concerns their operations in host communities in the Niger Delta region of the country.
SEEPCO, on October 19, 2015 was given a Court sanction to pay National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, a fine worth N68m for failure to report a spill that occurred on March, 2011 at Okwuibome location C (OPL 280), Asaba, Delta State.
Also, last year, SPEECO’s operational dealings with Agge Federated Communities of Kou Kingdom of Bayelsa and Delta States went sour over the Company’s delay tactics in implementing their terms in the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) entered with the Communities on July 30, 2014.
Nevertheless, in ONNA LGA, footprint of Sterling Oil, SEEPCO, is found in Ibotio Community where their operational site is located.
The people of this community decried “wanton” destruction of their farmlands and the sand-filling of their streams by this Company.
The village head of Ukpana, ONNA LGA, Eteidung Goodnews Bassey Ranzi lamented that the company trespassed on their land without due consultation or proper conduct of EIA.
The people of Ukpana Community in ONNA have pushed for ₦177 billion worth of compensation from Sterling Global Oil Limited for the “wanton” destruction of their lands, properties and to appease the deads whose graves have been destroyed.
SEEPCO, an offshoot of Sandesara Group in India is alleged to be owned by ‘fugitive brothers’ Nitin and Chetan Sandesara. They operate in six (6) continents and several Countries including; China, Japan, South East Asia, Europe, Middle East, India and USA, Nigeria, etc.
Their escape to Nigeria from their Country, India, on the allegation of bank-fraud has made sane minds worried of their tie with the Nigerian Government.
Sterling Global Oil Limited also known as SEEPCO has a registration number of 648962 with Corporate Affairs Commission of Nigeria.
The Board is expected to have seven (7) Officers. One (1) member is missing in the list. Only six active members’ data are displayed on CAC portal. But without specific email addresses.
Amongst the active six (6) Officers, three (3) perform the same role as ‘Directors’ with similar names.
Two are Americans, residents of United States, Patel Dakshay and Patel Trupti. But Patel Devak is an Indian. The three are Directors of the Company with the same address, 4595 Sandesara Drive, Prince George V.A 23875 Prince, except Patel Devak, with service address at Plot 205, Abiola Segun Ajayi Street, off Mury Okunola Street, V/Island, Lagos State, which is the headquarters’ address of SEEPCO in Lagos.
Dakshay and Trupti have the same date of appointments, 08 March 2006; and were born 1959 and 1962 respectively. Devak was born July 1991 and was appointed 05 March 2020.
The last three (3) Officers of the six have addresses in Lagos. Mabs and Limited (N/A); and another with no name, all have “correspondance” address at 6, Jubilee Road along CMD, Shangisha Lagos. The last Officer simply identified as ‘MabsandCompany Limited NULL,’ address is just Yaba Lagos.
These last three have peculiarities of no Dates of Birth, Nigerians living in Nigeria, similar names, Mabs and Company Limited, except one with no identity. Two play the role as Company Secretaries except one with a role of Deponent. Period of Appointment of two are same except dates, 05/04 June 2007; while the one identified as ‘MabsandCompany Limited NULL’ appointment date is nil.
One is tempted to say few individuals are in charge of Sterling Oil which include the Indian Brothers and a Nigerian as a critical shareholder behind the scene, all duplicating roles. Person of Significant Control for the Company is not disclosed.
Hidden under cover is a Nigerian face behind ‘Mabs and Limited (N/A)’ and ‘Mabsand Company Limited NULL,’ as the firm is not on CAC register.
SEEPCO operates on OML 13 in Iko, Elekpon, Akpabom and Atabrikang Communities of Eastern Obolo LGA. OML 13 operators are also at Uquo Marginal Field/Stubb Creek at Esit Eket and Unyenge, Mbo LGAs. In Ibeno LGA, SPEECO operates in Qua Iboe Marginal Field, Atabrikang II precisely, and ONNA LGA, all in Akwa Ibom State.
• Allegation: AKSG cheats Community of ₦270m out of ₦400m compensation
Recently, Eastern Obolo LGA, Akwa Ibom State, tales of woes have been worsened, this time, not only by SEEPCO, but by the Akwa Ibom State Government through its Ministry of Lands and Water Resources headed by Pst Umo Eno.
The Traditional Rulers in Eastern Obolo LGA have accused the State Government of deducting ₦270m from the ₦400m compensation paid by SEEPCO to fishermen displaced from the Lagos fishing settlement at Ikonta-Obianga late last year.
Community stakeholders expressed dissatisfaction over the action which they described as gross misdeed at the expense of the community people who suffer the effect of Oil exploration in the area the more.
“There is a fishing settlement called Lagos fishing settlement at Ikonta-Obianga in Eastern Obolo which the Company gave ₦400m as compensation. But at the end, ₦130m was given to the communities while ₦270m pocketed by the State Government,” Paramount Ruler of Eastern Obolo LGA, HRM Rt. Hon. (Chief) Harry J. Etetor (ILILE XI) said.
The Royal Father further disclosed that another round of compensation will be paid for ecological damages by the Company to entire Eastern Obolo LGA worth the value of ₦3b.
He said any amount lower than the amount, the entire Eastern Obolo people will reject it.
“The value of damages was estimated to the tune of ₦3b but the Commissioner for Lands and Water Resources, Pst Umo Eno recommended a paltry ₦700m to the Governor who further reduced the amount to ₦500m.
“This time, the entire Eastern Obolo will not accept such injustice. We will never accept anything less than ₦3b,” the Paramount Ruler of Eastern Obolo LGA, HRM Rt. Hon. (Chief) Harry J. Etetor (ILILE XI) stressed.
Village Head of Emere-oke II, Ayagwung Joshua Matthew (Regen) Okama – elect in his reaction said,“When Sterling Oil (SEEPCO) came to Ikonta-Obianga, they used the Local Committees to oppress the people. But it won’t be so in our own community to use the people against the people. The Company pay the elites and forget the people.
“The place they vacated the fishermen, they only paid peanut. It is not everybody who will refuse to take money and do the right thing. People who own the resources don’t even benefits from these resources.”
The Youth Leader of Eastern Obolo LGA, Samuel Gogo Adasi said this about the compensation process handled by the Ministry for Lands and Water Resources:
“The State government cheated the people. The compensation went through the Government. So, is the Government who cheated the people not the Company. The Company paid the money to the State Government who now negotiated with the people. Since the Government is not fair to us the people, we want the Company to deal with the people directly, not through the State Government anymore,” Samuel Gogo submitted.
However, this could not be independently verified by this reporter as all efforts to speak with the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Lands and Water Resources, Pst Umo Eno proved abortive. He did not keep to interview appointments given to The Crest Newspaper. Staffers at his office when a call was put across said he traveled out of the state. Further calls, text messages to personal aides to the Commissioner to facilitate an interaction with the Commissioner were ignored. However, Pst. Eno has been sighted at public gatherings consulting for his governorship ambition.
Further findings from The Crest Reporter revealed that, the Lagos fishing settlement is to be taken over by SEEPCO for its Petrochemical and Fertilizer production.
Meanwhile, on reaching out to the Community Liaison Officer (CLO) for Sterling oil Petrochemical and Fertilizer Plant, Sir Ghamalia Harry denied knowledge of the details of the compensation and referred this reporter to the Ministry of Lands and Water Resources who handled the compensation process.
Pst. Umo Eno who is the commissioner in this Ministry has refused to honour media appointment requested to get him speak on this.
To be continued.
This investigation is supported by Policy Alert with funding from Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).