The people of Ekeremor Constituency II, host community to Atala oil field, otherwise known as OML 46, have urged Bayelsa State Government to commence exploration of the oil field.
They said they had been waiting for 18 years for the exercise to commence.
The community argued that timely exploration of the oil field would have hastened its socioeconomic development.
Specifically, the Ekeremor community criticised alleged opposition of Bayelsa State Government to the licence recently granted an indigenous oil firm, after the state oil company had failed to utilise the earlier exploration license granted it.
The Ekeremor community noted that non exploration of the Atala oil field since 2003 had been hindering development of their community.
This was contained in a statement on behalf of the community signed by Hon. Wilson Ayakpo Dauyegha, the lawmaker representing Ekeremor Constituency II in Bayelsa State House of Assembly.
He is also the Deputy Minority leader of the House.
The statement recalled that the Federal Government, early this year, through the Department of Petroleum Resources and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, awarded afresh the Atala oil field to an indigenous oil exploration company.
It, however, expressed surprise that Bayelsa State Government opposed the move.
The community also criticised the Ijaw Youth Council for supporting the stance of Bayelsa State Government.
The statement recalled that Atala Oil Field was discovered in 1982 and that Bayelsa State owned oil company, BCOL, was first awarded exploration licence in 2003, with exclusive exploration rights.
According to the statement, the state oil company failed to harness the potentials of the oil field up until 2010 when the Federal Government granted an extension of its license for five years for its Farm-Out Agreement for the purpose of bringing it to production.
The statement reads in part, “At the expiration of this extension in 2015, again another gracious offer was made by the Minister of Petroleum Resources to the BOCL to renew its license within 18 months effective from 1st May 2016, which again expired on December 2017.
“For 17 years, the good people of Ekeremor constituency II and other host communities waited.
“We urge the Bayelsa State Government to provide an enabling environment for the new owners of the OML 46 to operate, while calling on the oil firm to, as a matter of urgency, start operation, carry along the host communities as expected, and bring the long awaited dividends to the host communities.”