The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) on Wednesday said it began engaging youths in its host communities to reduce attacks on oil and gas facilities.
Mr Sam Ezugwuorie, the Asset Manager, Land East Hub, said this in an interview with Newsverge in Port Harcourt on the sidelines of a summit organised by SPDC-JV for 120 youths.
He said that SPDC was concerned by current activities of vandals on its pipelines and wellheads, adding that these often led to oil spillage which pollute the environment.
“The summit aims to enlighten our youths to embrace positive environmental management culture, attitude and lifestyle because the environment is our primary area of habitat.
“This summit is focused on building and sustaining relationship with our youths as well as empowering them with the virtues of hard work for the overall benefit of their families, communities, state and the nation.
“SPDC as a responsible company is poised to partner with its host communities in a collaborative manner for preservation of our environment which is more important to the company than revenue.
“The intent is that this summit would grow and then youths of our host communities would become ambassadors who will in turn enlighten other youths in the protection and preservation of the environment,” he said.
Ezugwuorie said that 120 youths from its communities and Students Union Executives of five tertiary institutions across the company’s Land Eastern Operation were participating in the summit
He said that youths as future leaders must work with SPDC to ensure that oil and gas facilities were protected at all cost to avoid further degradation of the immediate environment.
Also speaking, Mr Amadi Collins, SPDC’s Manager, Production Unit, Imo River, said the company had lost huge revenue due to acts of vandalism on pipelines and wellheads in the area.
He said in spite several enlightenment programmes organised by the company to expose youths to dangers associated with attacks on its facilities, some had remained adamant.
“More worrisome is the fact that some communities have turned our facilities to refuse dump and faeces sites.
These prevents the facilities from performing optimally, thus leading to loss in revenue,’’ he said.
One of the participants, Confidence Atuegbu, said destruction of some oil and gas facilities by some Niger Delta youths had partly led to the current recession in the country.
Atuegbu, who is a student union leader in the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, called on youths to have a change of heart.
“We must have a rethink on pipeline burst and illegal bunkering and refinery which have endangered our environment and exposed us to serious health risk,” he said.
Also speaking, Miss Oroma Ereh, an indigene of Aluu community in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers, attributed acts of vandalism to high rate of unemployment in communities which host oil and gas companies.
She said these acts would reduce drastically when youths were employed by those doing business in their various communities.
Ereh called for expansion of the programme to enable more youths to participate and be exposed to activities aimed at protecting the environment.