The House of Representatives on Thursday, directed the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) to relocate its Western operational headquarters to Warri in Delta State with immediate effect.
The directive is sequel to the adoption of a motion sponsored by Hon Lovette Idisi, the member representing Ethiope West and Ethiope East of Delta state.
Passing the motion, the House resolved to refer the relocation order to its committee on petroleum upstream for a detailed, specific and professional appraisal and report its recommendations within two weeks.
Moving the motion, Hon Idisi said that Warri is still reeling from the unpleasant decision by Shell to temporarily relocate its western headquarters from Warri in 2013 on the excuse of a hostile business environment.
He stated that the hostile environment Shell cited for its relocation had indeed been engendered by the neglect and impoverishment of the people through the adverse effects of oil exploration activities.
But the lawmaker reminded Shell that peace has returned to Warri and the entire Niger Delta region, adding that the only way to sustain this peace and business friendly environment is for the oil company to return its operational headquarters back to Warri.
According to him, the refusal by the Anglo-Dutch oil firm to relocate to Warri will amount to a contravention of the spirit and intendment of the Local Content Act and be interpreted as a continuation of the decade – long disdain, neglect and short – changimg of the Niger Delta people.
Idisi further recalled that in May this year, Shell’s Vice President, Ethical Affairs Committee Mr. Bradford Houppe at the Hague, apologized to the Niger Delta people, regretting the hardship caused the people of the region over the years by the devastating impacts of the company’s operations on their land and water ways.
The House member declared that Shell acted wrongly by relocating its office from Warri while it’s still drilling for oil in the area for the past two years.
“For the avoidance of doubt, there has been peace and stability in Warri, the state and the entire Niger Delta region which was the erroneous reason the departure was predicated upon.
“The government of Delta State has even promised to provide adequate security and tax incentives to encourage SPDC to return back to Warri.
“As representatives of our people, we have the responsibility to champion their cause as jobs have been lost, ancillary industries have been divested of business opportunities, taxes have been diverted elsewhere and Warri – indeed Delta State is now a shadow of its former glory.
“All of these have been occasioned by the exit of SPDC that continues to drill oil from our land while our people are left to continue with the devastating consequences of oil exploration activities,” he added.
Idisi expressed worry that several appeals made to the managing director of Shell by concerned stakeholders advancing several reasons why the oil firm should return back to Warri beyond the fact that peace has returned to Warri and indeed the Niger Delta have yeilded no official response.
Nigeria, he said is currently undergoing serious economic challenges and therefore cannot afford the disruption of oil revenue from Delta State as a result of aggressive protests for the relocation of Shell’s western headquarters to Warri if it continues to refuses to return back to the status quo pre-2013.