‘Treat host communities as business partners. No private contractors. Use community governance structures. Make payments verifiable via BVN-supported bank-transfer-enabled salaries’
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) of the Nigerian armed forces has advised oilfield operators in the Niger Delta to adopt the “Belemaoil Model”, in their engagement with host oil communities, to minimize attacks on oil facilities.
Following a meeting with several E&P companies in the east of Nigeria, initiated by the military as part of the “Operation Crocodile Smile”, the COAS put the first burden of securing pipelines on the oil companies. The military stated clearly at the beginning of the communiqué: “Oil pipelines should be secured by oil companies while ensuring a clear field of view along pipelines’ right of way”.
The key idea in the model, presented at the meeting by Belemaoil, a Nigerian independent and operator of the Oil Mining Lease (OML) 55, is to engage communities, not contractors, (not even when the contracting company is owned by top militant leaders), in pipeline surveillance.
“Rather than use contractors – whether or not of community origin – the aspiration is to use community governance structures to employ large number of youths (verifiable via BVN-supported bank-transfer-enabled salary payments)”.
The Belemaoil model argues for oil companies to treat host communities as business partners, budget certain percentage of profit to improve the quality of lives in the host communities, use host communities to provide security services rather than outside contractors, hold host communities responsible for breach of security of oil assets within the communities, promote peace through massive employment of youths from host communities, improve environmental performance and government, NGO and Civil Society Relations, Partner with security agencies to increase surveillance and patrols.
Some of these suggestions are already part of the extant mode of relations with host communities by companies, “but the importance of this call is to spread the idea around, especially the part that host communities, and not individuals or contractors, be responsible for surveillance”, say participants at the meeting.