From Ameachi Prosper (The New Diplomat’s Delta State Correspondent)
The licence of the Bayelsa State-owned Atala Marginal Oilfield (OML 46) was revoked due to its prolonged dormancy.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, who disclosed this at a meeting with stakeholders, chiefs and youths organised by his ministry in conjunction with the Bayelsa State government in Yenagoa, noted that successive governors of the state had failed to utilize the asset despite its great economic potentials.
The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), had in April 2020, revoked 11 of the 13 marginal oilfield licences issued to indigenous oil companies, including Atala oilfield.
However, the Bayelsa State government announced in December 2020 that it was pursuing the revalidation of the licence.
Defending the federal government’s decision, Sylva said, Bayelsa had held OML 46 since 2003 and also secured the renewal of the licence after it expired but no benefits accrued to the state from the investment throughout the period.
“Atala oilfield is an important investment that the 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 A few months ago when this asset was revoked, I asked myself: how many Bayelsa people lost their jobs as a result of this revocation?
According to the minister, hardly any jobs or projects in Bayelsa State suffered as a result of the revocation, adding, ”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.”
He advised stakeholders in the state to chart a way forward for the growth and development of the state, irrespective of political affiliations, reiterating that the collective interest of the state was bigger than the interest of any individual or group of persons.