Convert deserted Shell Airstrip in Oloibiri to Air Force base – Senate urges FG

Sharon EboesomiMay 23, 20244 min

For several years, the Shell Airstrip, constructed in 1958 following the first discovery of crude oil in 1956 has long been abandoned. 

Convert deserted Shell Airstrip in Oloibiri to a modern Air Force base - Senate urges FG 

The Senate has urged the Ministry of Aviation and the Nigeria Airforce, to take over and convert the deserted and uncultivated waste land of the abandoned Shell Airstrip at Oloibiri Oil well 1, to a modern Air Force base in Bayelsa State.

This is as it urged Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC), the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPCL) and other oil companies as well as the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to contribute to the Air Force Project.

These resolutions followed the adoption of a motion on the “Urgent need for transformation of the abandoned Shell Airstrip at Oloibiri Oil Well 1, Otuogidibin Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State to an Air force Base.”

In his lead debate, the motion’s sponsor, Senator Benson Agadaga (PDP, Bayelsa East) disclosed to the Senate that the Shell Airstrip, constructed in 1958 following the first discovery of crude oil in 1956 and sitting on over 25 hecters of land situated at Itokopiri bush which is hosting the famous Oloibiri Oil well 1 in Otuogidi Community, has long been abandoned. 

According to him, the Airstrip, while in effective operation, was a very valuable asset in the company’s oil exploration and exploitation activities in airlifting of personnel and equipment for that period.

The lawmaker stressed that during the years of its functionality, heavy duty equipment, Company Workers, Captains of Industry, top Government functionaries and Diplomats resorted to this route for easy access to the Niger Delta region.

He however lamented that since the gradual decline of Shell’s operations in the area and final departure from Oloibiri oil field, the Airstrip and the land where it operated have been abandoned and left desolate even as the land itself appears to have been sentenced to perpetual condemnation as no agricultural activity which is the economic mainstay of the local dwellers can be carried out anymore due to the concretized topography of the soil.

This experience poses environmental challenges and serious ecological complications to the Hog Community as Shell has left the people in deprivation, squalor and lamentation after decades of operation,” he said.

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He assured that upgrading the abandoned Airstrip to an Air Force Base will bring renewed hope to the people, restore life to the area and attract the following benefits to the country.

He said, “It will also strengthen the security architecture of Nigeria as the creeks of Bayelsa up to Brass Island and the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in the gulf of guinea where the oil export terminal is located will be easily monitored and protected.

“It will reduce the rate of oil theft and pipeline vandalism as it will enhance surveillance activities in the numerous oil producing and impacted communities of the area which constitute the hub of oil industry activities in Nigeria; and attract more business opportunities in the area thereby creating additional jobs to boost the economic growth of our nation and ease the cost of living of the people.

“It will also attract more business opportunities in the area, thereby creating additional jobs to boost the economic growth of our nation and ease the cost of living of the people.”

STAR Check: Nigerians, particularly, constituents of Bayelsa East district, can keep tabs on the legislative performance of Sen. Agadaga throughout the 10th senate here.

Sharon Eboesomi

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