Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), has expressed optimism about the potential reinstatement of the revoked licence for OML 46, commonly known as Atala Oilfield, belonging to Bayelsa State. The licence was controversially revoked in April 2020 during the tenure of Chief Timipre Sylva as the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources.
During a visit to Governor Douye Diri at the Government House in Yenagoa, Senator Lokpobiri conveyed his regrets over the Atala oilfield being taken away, emphasizing that it is a shared asset of the state. He pledged to exert every effort within his capacity to restore the oilfield to Bayelsa.
The minister’s visit aimed at seeking collaboration with the state government to address various issues affecting Bayelsa and to ensure the state reaps the benefits of democracy. He congratulated Governor Diri on his re-election and sought the government’s partnership in combating pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft, which have significantly reduced revenue from the federation account to oil-producing states.
Lokpobiri expressed concern about the environmental impact of illegal bunkering activities, highlighting the need to protect water and land resources. He drew attention to the pollution levels in Bayelsa, surpassing even Ogoni in Rivers State, and emphasized the importance of curbing illegal refineries to safeguard the state’s income.
Governor Diri reciprocated Lokpobiri’s congratulations and appreciated President Bola Tinubu for appointing a worthy son of Bayelsa as Minister of State for Petroleum Resources. Diri assured the federal government of his administration’s readiness to collaborate in addressing oil theft and illegal bunkering. He urged the involvement of governors from the Niger Delta states in collectively tackling these challenges.
Expressing hope for positive changes, Governor Diri emphasized the significance of reclaiming the Atala oilfield for Bayelsa. He urged Lokpobiri to collaborate with the state government to attract development and highlighted the need for fiscal federalism and resource control for the true viability of states.