Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, on Wednesday, made emphatic clarifications on the state’s position about its Atala oil marginal field (OML 46), which licence was revoked by the federal government through the Department of Petroleum Resources in April 2020.
Governor Diri, who was commenting on the issue publicly for the first time amid the controversy it had generated in recent times, expressed shock over the revocation.
He said the marginal oil field remained a prized asset of the state to which it is sentimentally attached and called on the federal government to reconsider its decision on the matter.
The governor stated this position before commencement of the weekly state executive council meeting in Government House, Yenagoa.
A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, quoted him as calling on all concerned parties, including the DPR, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva, to consider returning the oil field to the state.
He noted that the people and government of Bayelsa were emotionally and sentimentally attached to it, saying is the only oil asset owned by the state.
His words: “There has been this issue of the Bayelsa State-owned Atala Oil Field. We kept a studied silence over the matter because we needed to have all the information that led to the revocation of the licence on our state-owned asset.
“Bayelsans are emotionally and sentimentally attached to that asset as it is the only oil asset we own even though it is a marginal oil field. It was a surprise and rude shock to us that the licence was revoked.
“Part of what I have done in the last one week of my absence was to state the position of the Bayelsa State Government, which I did very clearly to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. So our position on Atala Oil Field is that it is a prized asset of Bayelsa State and that revocation should be cancelled. Unequivocally, we have said so and we believe that those in authority would see reason why we are sentimentally and emotionally attached to the Atala Oil Field.
“Bayelsa State government might not have the financial capacity or the technical know-how. But the government is ready to partner financial and technical experts to ensure that the field goes into full production.
“Therefore, let me use the opportunity to inform Exco that your government has actually taken a position on the Atala Oil Field and that it should remain a property of the Bayelsa State government.
“I call on all who are concerned on the Atala Oil Field, namely DPR, the Petroleum Ministry, NNPC and indeed our own son, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, to do all within their powers to ensure that the Atala Oil Field is returned to Bayelsa State.”
Senator Diri also disclosed that in the past week, he met with foreign missions and high commissions in Abuja in a bid to attract foreign direct investments to the state.
The governor stressed that the move was aimed at changing the stereotype of the state on insecurity, and expressed optimism that these dialogues would payoff soon for the state.