Pedro Diaz is an Engineer from Venezuela. A thirty-six (36) years Veteran of the Oil and Gas industry, he has spent sixteen (16) years travelling around the world and worked with various companies in the United States of America, Columbia and Mexico in Gas Processing Projects and Management. In his words “Diaz goes where the oil is”.

Very recently, Belamaoil has been receiving a lot of positive mention in the press and one of the reasons is that of OML 25. What is OML 25 that is so interesting or important to Belemaoil.
OML 25 is a unitized block, which Belemaoil is part of it. We have interest of 10.7%. The interest that we do have is to support the Federation in their activities to increase their oil true put. So that block is 35,000 barrels potential to put into the tank, so for a long time there has been a conflict between local host community, which Belemaoil is part of it, and we are Neighbor Operators. So, we offer the facilitation to allow the former Operator to reactivate the Operation. So what is our utmost interest basically is to mentor the current operator to understand the way how we have been successful on the way we have been operating OML 55 under the Belemaoil model, which is engaging the host community to participate within the main activities that the oil extraction is associated with. So that is the much support we have given but in the future, we’ll see how much we can support the operator.

This is interesting, because reading about it, the Host Communities express so much joy that the issues that surrounded the stoppage of production along that line has been resolved and even went beyond the euphoria of the moment to even say that they don’t mind in the event of any disengagement that Belemaoil should have been the first right of refusal. Judgmentally, that means the community has bought into your engagement in the arena.

That has a very strong reasoning behind it for the last 40years, the previous operator has been extracting reserve and wealth from the area, With the evidence we saw on ground. Belemaoil has only been operating OML 55 for three (3) years and you can also visit the area associated with the Host Communities and you can see the result. We have only been promoting the people’s development and have been developing Infrastructure.
It is a pity that Communities like that in the area have not enjoyed Portable Drinking water, which is not the same as having a borehole with real, potable drinking treated water which Belemaoil has been along with NNPC as their JV operator, provided for the community.
The basic things like supporting the local students, promoting and giving scholarships and stimulating widows.
In general, integrating the local entrepreneurs to the operation. That allows the PIB to be stimulated within the local communities. So, it is a matter of promoting wealth in the local name and being a good neighbour.

This dovetails the issue of community restiveness in the Niger Delta.

Again, if the people don’t have source of income and they see the resources coming out, they will be reduced to doing things that are not productive. But if you give them the opportunity to work in activities that are not high skill, you show them a source of income they will be occupied by doing productive activities.
Some of them, we have even trained them in maintenance of well heads with our Contractors and every time we have a specialized contractor, we allow them to join some people and get the PPP model and to know how to get out of the job. It’s basically the fact that we don’t want to ignore the presence of the communities, and neighbour’s in our operations.

That’s heart-warming. There are issues around this Community- Company operations. Let’s dwell into Corporate Social Responsibility issues. It is touching for some, who have a link to the Niger Delta.

The main reason is the spirit and the heart that the founder of the company has. He is a man from the soil, and from the very beginning, he wanted to change the narrative of the Oil Extraction in the Region. The aspect that is also important to mention is that the foreign operators are not necessarily maintained for the rest of their lives, the asset and minimizing cost to maximize revenue. We are looking more into maintaining the activity and allowing the searches to be sustainable, but at the same time looking more to develop the infrastructure and assist the people surrounding us. If the people have a better level of life and the same time, they also have jobs, the narrative will be different. On the other hand, we expect the communities to be friendly enough to support us on the group life activity and reduce the bunkering activity, which is a day by day criminal activity in the Niger Delta.

That’s amazing. One thing that exacts me is the name of your company, Belemaoil.

Yes, the name of the company. Belema means Love, we want to work the talk by giving Love to the people and at the same time receiving Love from the people, by maintaining harmony in the activity of the company, we want to be together while extracting the oil from the Niger Delta.

Great, it is a distinctive approach from the IOC’s (International Oil Companies).

The IOC’s go to countries and Nigeria is not the first country. But Nigeria is matured enough and has 60 plus years history of oil exploration activities and that allows local force to be able to have enough skills and maturity to handle the business.
There is also the need to have some individuals that add value with their experience. A lot of Nigerians have also travelled abroad and worked oversees. But eventually they would see the attractions of the business and there would return. There is nothing better than to be at home and support the business at home.
In a nutshell, the opportunities for a more local indigenous company has come and there is less participation of the International Oi Companies presence in Nigeria.

How friendly is the Environment for Belemaoil to thrive and other Indigenous Oil Companies to form?

We do not have function at all, the relationship is very cordial and Belemaoil has proven that since inception of three (3) years operation, we have not had any shutdown due to community shutdown or unrest.
We have been able to manage all crisis and are conducting a massive campaign, which involves a lot of massive area and we have continued to perform without stop and it is happening successfully. The climate is much cordial.
What about the support if any, received from the Nigerian Content Development Management Board, which was set up to help indigenous Oil Servicing Firms.
We have been receiving interaction with the (NCDMB), but we have our own community development group in corporate relations, communication, which along with the Army, Navy. We have maintained harmony in the region and have maintained good presence with the Nigerian Armed Forces and it’s because the robbers are still around, we have not been able to clarify that completely, but it is been taken care of.

Can you be more specific on the Content Development Board (NCDMB).

Belemaoil has added more and more to the local development force and we have been promoting and training. They monitor us and the level of contracting and local participation is over 70% plus. So, we only bring materials and services from abroad that is not manufactured here in Nigeria. We do not have any foreign representative here.

You stated, that you started 3 years ago, it is quite short to do an extensive assessment but notwithstanding, what’s the level of support you give to your local contractors?

Well, we have maximized support to the Local contractors and those contractors that are not involved, maybe because they do not have proven evidence of qualification but as long as they comply with the regulations of contracting and follow with the procedures, we give opportunity to all of them, especially if the contractors are Indigene of the host community which is beneficial for the company based on our model. However, it is important to mention that Belemaoil has given beyond the Niger Delta and it has been given support to the communities in the North and we have done the following projects: Built water facilities, built roads, mosques, provided Universities facilities and donated Ambulance to the Aminu Kano State teaching Hospital and so many activities that are being carried out just to share the benefits of the extraction.

How impactful should a company be to its host communities? I guess you have had some long stay in Nigeria and look at the state of infrastructure in the area vis- a -vis the volume of contribution in terms of revenue resources to the National wealth.

That is a work in progress. Belemaoil is trying to change the narrative, like I have mentioned earlier. In the past, you have not looked after that infrastructure and basically the Oil and Gas sector has developed areas in the capital and main cities but not much has been done in the rural areas. We have passed the message and there is return from that. The return is evidence that there is no stoppages in operation and that allows to have a steady revenue for the Federation. So, imagine with the shutdown of the OML 25 how much money represent 35,000, no barrels per day for all that period which it was shutdown.
I’m pretty sure that country had lost a lot of money from that by not being able to settle many needs that the Belema and Surrounding Community may have.
I read the mission statement on the Environment, your company wants to run an environmentally friendly operation and socially responsible one.
Again, I will state that Belemaoil is committed to the environment as part of its commitment to the society. So the local host communities have their major economy from fishing and on that fishing activities have been impacted by the oil exploration activities and this has resulted to a decline on the fishing activities and we are trying to change the extraction mode, the gas utilization we are using eliminates the flare producing ethanol for the Kitchens and Diesel for the boats and we are pumping gas to the local markets.
For the produced water, instead of continuing with the production mode that was in place before, by design, we are changing that to process the water at very little pollution level and we are implementing a disposal project water back to the reservoir and we are undertaking a study to do that and not to return the waste back to the swam, sea but to a reservoir.

What effort is being put in place to handle the harm that has been done?

To remediate the harm, it will take a joint effort with random technology to attack the result of so many years. For now, we need to stop the contamination associated with oil activities and we will focus on the remediation process and that must be in conjunction with the oil operators. If the foreign operators are based their activities in the country, they need to accept share in their responsibility and base on their last 60 years of operation.
Is there any serious cooperation among the industry right now?
That depends on the role that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), as a major stakeholder will play to integrate the indigenous and international operators to create adjoining force in maximizing the various wrongs resulting from all these years.

What are the challenges faced so far as a company?

The challenges are many, but a few include: The crime and the aging of the facilities. We inherited facilities that required proper maintenance to take it to a professional level and that maybe a message to the regulators to ensure that any asset handed over back to local indigenous must comply with a minimum level of professional maintenance and integrity level. So the Indigenous when it takes over does not need to expend huge amounts of money to take the facility/asset to an acceptable level and defer the remedy. So it is like when you buy a used car, it is a situation we face.

It is obvious from studies and research that Nigeria is basically more like a gas-based nation than fossil fuel. Is that true?

Well, the resource base about is 70% gas resource and we have developed an asset field development plan based on that. Yes indeed, we are going to have source oil deference, but our plans are to explore the gas potential.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.