As the annual National Crude Oil Discovery Day Thanksgiving Service holds at Oloibiri Well 1, in Oloibiri Oilfield located in Otuabagi community in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State on January 15, 2019, two Non-Governmental Organisations working in Bayelsa State, Centre for Sustainable Development and Peace Initiative (CSDPI) and Oloibiri Oil & Gas Discovery Day Initiative, have again appealed to the federal government to commence work on the proposed National Research Centre and Oil and Gas Museum in Oloibiri.
In separate interviews with the Blue Economy Magazine in Yenagoa on Friday, the Executive Director of Centre for Sustainable Development and Peace Initiative, Pastor (Mrs) Aniedim Ezowede Freeman and Chief Executive Officer of Oloibiri Oil & Gas Discovery Day Initiative (OLOGDDI), Pastor Naranie Albert Karibo, regretted that after assurances from successive administrations, the National Research Centre and Oil and Gas Museum in Oloibiri was nowhere to be found in Bayelsa state.
According to the Executive Director of CSDPI, the project, which has potential for job creation and capacity building among the host communities, with environmental, social and economic values that will enhance conservation efforts in the oil field, which has been abandoned for decades by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) after Oloibiri Well 1 dried up, with host communities wallowing in abject poverty and neglect, being in dare need of social amenities.
Mrs Freeman however, thanked the Bayelsa state government and the 16 Brigade of the Nigerian Army for paying attention to the Oloibiri Well 1 as a tourist site, by adding value to the site.
Explaining the reason for the annual National Crude Oil Discovery Day Thanksgiving Service which holds every January 15, each year at the Oloibiri Well 1, in Otuabagi community in Ogbia Local Government council area, Pastor Naranie Karibo, said the host communities thought it wise to organise the event as a show of gratitude to God for depositing the back gold (Crude oil) in their community which is sustaining the nation’s economy.
He said he was very optimistic that someday, an administration will emerge at the national level that will remember Oloibiri Oilfield and build the proposed National Research Centre and Oil and Gas Museum in Oloibiri Oilfield as a legacy edifice.
The Blue Economy Magazine’s investigation in Abuja, showed that the Executive Secretary, Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), under the last administration, Dr Oluwole Oluleye had assured stakeholders the fund’s commitment to pursue the completion of the proposed Oloibiri Oil National Research Centre and Oil and Gas Museum, yet nothing has been heard of the project.
It was gathered that Dr. Oluleye, who gave the assurance in Abuja while receiving the then Director-General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mrs. Sally Mbanefo, in his office, stated that “completing the museum would not only harness the history of oil exploration in Nigeria, but also to serve as a viable tourist attraction for the country.
“PTDF has commenced the process of establishing a National Research Centre and Oil and Gas Museum in Oloibiri, Bayelsa State, which will serve as a repository of knowledge and artifacts on the early history of oil exploration in Nigeria, and illuminate the essence of petroleum science education and related environmental issues, including oil and gas research.
“It’s a dream that, if finally realized, the museum will be the first of its kind to harness the early history of oil exploration in the country, and will serve as an archive where samples of research outputs will be laid for references. This is in addition to its becoming a tourist attraction for people from all walks of life and especially those interested in oil and gas explorations.
“We are building a research museum and conference centre at Oloibiri in Bayelsa State. Oloibiri itself should have been a tourism centre a long time ago, considering its significance of being where oil was found in commercial quantity”.
He pointed out that, the country has benefited from oil proceeds over a long period of time and it is therefore a worthwhile venture to develop a centre in Oloibiri to celebrate the early history of its existence in the country.
Oloibiri Oilfield was discovered on Sunday 15 January 1956 by Shell Darcy. It was the first commercial oil discovery in Nigeria; this discovery ended 50 years of unsuccessful oil exploration in the country by various international oil companies and launched Nigeria into the limelight of the Petro-State.