There was a mini ruckus on the Senate floor Thursday and, unsurprisingly, it had much to do with money.
It was about the familiar argument between states on the ownership of oil, still significantly esteemed as the ultimate ticket to state wealth because of the derivation it demands. Add to that the rise of oil to $72 per barrel for the first time in three years and you will understand the persisting relevance of oil politics.
The resource contained within spaces designated as OPL 915, 916 and 917 was the subject of contention between Senators Chukwuma Utazi (Enugu), Andy Uba (Anambra) and Dino Melaye (Kogi). As reported by PREMIUM TIMES, each senator took a turn to state emphatically that the oil belonged to their state, citing historical dates as suits their argument.
So who owns the oil?
A search online on ‘OPL 915’ turns up Orient Petroleum as the owner of the license. Orient is a Nigerian-owned upstream company with hydrocarbon exploration interests and early stage projects in the Anambra basin, with its office in Port-Harcourt, Rivers state. However, a Google image of the location for which the license is granted shows it stretches into parts of Kogi, Enugu and Anambra states. Orient owns OPL 915 & 916.
Mr Utazi rose the issue based on a Vanguard report that 10 modular refineries will be citrd by government in the 11 oil producing states in the country, and that one of the refineries would be cited in Anambra. Hence, his and Mr Melaye’s reason for contending that the oil belonged to them was so their states would be the ones designated as “oil-producing”, thereby becoming entitled to all privileges that it attracts, including the said refineries.
With a resolution impossible in the heat of the moment, the Senate committee on petroleum (upstream) was asked to handle the matter. It will be of interest to see how they determine the issue, or may choose to let it lie low.
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