The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, has blamed the government of Bayelsa state for poor handling of the Atala marginal oilfield (OML 46), stating that the Federal Government revoked it’s as the project remained dormant for years.
The Minister, who addressed a stakeholders’ meeting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State said that no benefit could be attributed to the OML 46 since 2003 when it was granted its first licence.
“Atala oilfield is an important investment that Bayelsa State government had. This marginal oilfield was given to the state government in 2003 and I was instrumental to the allocation of the oilfield one way or another.
“This asset was in the hands of the state government for 17 years. A few months ago when this asset was revoked, I asked myself: how many Bayelsa people lost their jobs as a result of this revocation?
“I wanted people to count the number of people that have lost their jobs because of Atala being revoked. Let us face it. We had our issues but it’s not as if the asset will not come back to Bayelsa.”
The Department of Petroleum Resources had in April 2020 announced the revocation of 11 of the 13 marginal oilfields licences it had issued to indigenous oil companies, including the Atala oilfield owned by the Bayelsa government.
In December 2020, the state government said it was pursuing revalidation of OML 46 licence.
The Minister urged Bayelsa stakeholders to come together to chart a way forward for the growth and development of the state, irrespective of political leanings.
He added, “The life span of the asset, ten years, expired a long time ago, you went for renewal and it was extended for you, and even that extension has expired.
“How many Bayelsans lost their jobs as a result of the revocation? Not many projects suffered because of revocation. That tells you the value of this asset to Bayelsa at the time of revocation because if an asset is valuable to the state, then it would mean that we will see a lot of jobs being lost, a lot of opportunities gone as a result of the revocation but we didn’t have that.”