The Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu while at the Oil and Gas Trade Group Roundtable organised by the Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) yesterday, said that to douse tension in the oil-rich Niger Delta, the Federal Government plans to award to indigenes of the region marginal fields’ oil blocks abandoned by the oil majors and deemed as not commercially viable, The Guardian reports.
The plan is in line with the government’s larger objective of reducing major incidents of restiveness by about 90% next year. Over the years, there have been agitations over oil resource ownership, which have become intense with allegations that about 90% of northerners own the oil blocks awarded in the country. If the plan is implemented, the ownership structure of the nation’s petroleum assets will not only begin to change, but will also empower the host region, which has for decades suffered economic deprivation and environmental degradation on account of these resources.
Kachikwu, said through the Acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, John Eboigbe that the plan was part of the larger “stability incentive scheme” under “a harmonised holistic development plan for the Niger Delta.” Expatiating on the plan, Kachikwu said: “This will include creating stability incentive schemes – jobs, investments, contracting opportunities for the zone, and the use of marginal fields’ allocations to state governments and indigenes to help reduce tension and get buy-in without excluding the rest of the country.”