Gas Explosion: Chevron Offers N800m Bribe to Eight Community Leaders, As Ultimatum Expires


Information available to through sources knowledgeable of the activities at the State government house in Yenagoa, Bayelsa indicates Chevron Oil Company may have resorted to bribery as a more financially viable solution to the broad settlement of the affected communities. This is as Chevron representative selectively invited leaders of eight [8] communities to their Port Harcourt office located along Trans-Amadi Industrial Layout – for closed door discussions.

The closed door discussion, according to a source in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, was held Tuesday November 13, 2012  – largely to avert the threat of possible violence – as issued by the affected communities through a communique – where it stated November 15, 2012 was the deadline for Chevron to reach a settlement with the affected communities – or face the consequences. In the words of the communique, “Forum has agreed that if Chevron Nigeria Limited/Chevron Incorporated USA did not pay the demanded compensation on or before the 15th November, 2012 Forum shall allow the communities and Fisher folk to use every means to seek Reparations/Compensation“. [ Click here to read communique].

The Port Harcourt meeting ended unceremoniously – as the representatives of Chevron offered money to the community representatives. They offered N100million to each of the eight communities. Some of the communities refused accepting the money while some other pleaded to accept the money. The communities who refused said that the N100million was not the settlement amount demanded – and that there were other communities involved – not just eight communities. The communities had jointly demanded $3billion for compensation.

The community leaders who pleaded to be given the N100million argued that the amount was sufficient for their concerns. Chevron, as gathered, honored the plead for the N100million. Two community leaders were handed N100million each – and an additional N50mllion for accepting the N100million. is not certain the identities of the 8 communities who attended the meeting but our source states that it was the 8 most impacted communities – that were invited.  It was also uncertain which communities accepted or rejected the N100million bribe.

Legal experts in Bayelsa who are close to the settlement talks – state that the latest Chevron action may have worsened what already appears an impending round of crisis in the Niger Delta. “Chevron knows that once they collect the N100million, they will not pay any settlement again“, said the attorney practising in Bayelsa. He added that it appears dishonest on the part of Chevron.

The Government of Bayelsa State – through the ministry of environment – appears to be unclear with its actions or stand on the settlement talks. Last month, October 4, 2012, the Dickson administration withdrew a court case filed against Chevron by the previous administration over Chevron’s unwillingness to settle or compensate the affected communities. Following its abrupt withdrawal, learnt that Chevron and the State government reached ‘an understanding’ – that would allow for Chevron to get a soft landing. The details of the ‘understanding’ are not readily available but he State government who had assured the communities that it would work to get due compensation – has yet to convene a meeting between the two parties – even against repeated requests made by the communities to the Ministry.

It is recalled that on 16th January 2012, a Chevron accident inside the waters offshore – a distance away from the shoreline communities of Bayelsa Sate – led to a 46-day gas fire that burned and resulted in the formation of crude condensate – of which expert believe may pose harmful to the nearby residents and the immediate eco-system.   Chevron in its public statement agreed that there was negligent gas explosion at the facility of Chevron Nigeria Limited K.S. ENDEAVOR which spewed gas and fire till 2nd March, 2012 when an attempt to stop the fire was made.

Chevron is the 3rd largest oil producer in Nigeria and has assets on land, swamp and near-offshore concessions covering approximately 2.2 million acres (8,900 sq km) in the Niger Delta region. But in terms of its care for the environmental, Chevron has yet to do anything within the Niger Delta region. Its only effort in Nigeria is the Lekki Conservation Centre – which it supports financially – a 190-acre (0.8-sq-km) sanctuary for the flora and fauna of the Lekki Peninsula – only refuge of its kind in the Lagos area.

But its operations in California, USA show a disparity to its care for the environment. In Kern County, home to Chevron’s largest California oil field, it partnered with the Cawelo Water District to provide much-needed water for agricultural use. Water is a significant byproduct of the steamflooding technology which they use to extract more oil from the ground. For every one barrel of oil produced in Kern County, the process generates 10 barrels of water, which they capture, treat and distribute to local farmers.



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