Belemaoil Producing Ltd – Changing the Narrative
Belemaoil Producing Ltd is a homegrown upstream exploration & production company demonstrating a new model for operations.
We learn how a homegrown Indigenous upstream Exploration & Production Company is demonstrating a new model for how the industry can interact with Local Communities and their environment, to engender a more sustainable mutual relationship for increased production, wealth creation and community development.
The Niger Delta is one of Africa’s most important and lucrative oil-producing regions, but Africans haven’t always been the ones to reap the benefits.
“For nearly 50 years the Niger Delta has been exploited by major operators,” says Pedro Diaz Guerrero, Managing Director of Belemaoil Producing Ltd. “Our Founder/ President Engr. Tein T. S Jack-Rich came from a local Oil Producing Community called Kula located in the heart of Niger Delta in Rivers State and he had experienced first-hand the sufferings which small tribes had experienced over the years of exploitation. He has thus committed to giving back to Local Communities. This is why he implemented the Belemaoil Model which is a unique Community Engagement Model that ensures a Sustainable Mutual Partnership for Economic Empowerment, Integration, Wealth Creation and Community Development.
Massive Educational Enhancement Support Scheme
In the scheme’s first two years it reached over 400 individuals, some of whom have already graduated with masters’ degrees, bachelor degrees, and elementary schools. Belemaoil has also implemented a programme to recruit locals into the workforce so they can learn new skills, drawing them away from less productive activities such as bunkering in the swamps, or drug and alcohol abuse. This is the Graduate Trainee Scheme.
“Aside from that we have been carrying out programmes to insert women, including widows, into our entrepreneurship programmes, giving them training for everything from sewing to catering and merchant activities to sustain themselves,” Guerrero tells us. “We give them the training and small cash grants to help them start.”
A Neighbour That Cares
This is only the start of Belemaoil’s aid to local communities. The company has been involved in a long campaign to provide people with vaccination, dental care, and medical consultations with a view to making health care affordable to the Locals.
“They now have a neighbour that cares about them,” Guerrero says of nearby communities. “We are involved in their community and this is aside from reactivating a field that was previously not operated in a very conservative manner.”
Belemaoil has also been working to aid and repair the local environment, taking over an operation that was originally designed to flare natural gas and dump its water into the local swamps. Today, Belemaoil is minimising the flaring and has already achieved zero water dumping into the environment.
The result has been an operation that has built stronger and far less tumultuous relationships with the local population.
“We have been facing fewer issues than the previous operator, but we’ve faced some bunkering, oil being stolen for operators of illegal refineries who are then selling oil in the high seas,” Guerrero admits. “So, we’ve implemented a project to have our Terminal Floating and Storage Vessel that will allow us to minimize losses in the trunk line. That’s an ongoing project that will enhance the economic activity in the area. We will involve local people that will form small companies and learn the required skills with our partners, and advance their capacity for wealth creation”.
Belemaoil also wants to share these relationships up and down its supply chain.
“We’re asking our main contractors to partner with local indigenous companies as part of our local content development initiative,” Guerrero says. “So, the main contractor will be the local indigenous contractor.”
However way you look at it, Belemaoil is an incredible success story, boasting 5 million working hours with no injuries or spills, the company has provided Social Investment Programmes for Local communities across Nigeria.
“We decided the oil must benefit not only the neighbouring communities but more remote communities as well across Nigeria,” Guerrero insists. “Belemaoil has demonstrated its commitment to the Nigerian society to improve the lifestyle and economic performance of the sector.”
But Guerrero confides that Belemaoil’s goal hasn’t just been to repair the relationship between indigenous communities and the Oil and Gas industry, but to help rehabilitate the industry’s perception worldwide.
“The Oil and Gas industry has always been known as aggressive with the environment”, Guerrero says. “We want to be known as a company that has changed that narrative, as an environmentally friendly operation”.
Results Through Cooperation
Guerrero admits that there are times when changing that narrative can feel difficult.
“The main challenge I see is the debt is so high that when the people see we’re providing some help they want you to fix everything at the same time- schools, hospitals access roads,” he tells us. “The challenge is that it takes time and a lot of resources, with a system that is not designed to provide fast resources. The major projects will take years and a lot of resources so we can’t accomplish everything alone.”
If Belemaoil can’t accomplish what it wants to alone, it will find partners who can accomplish those results alongside it.
“We recently joined forces with the US government to distribute 80,000 diagnostic kits for AIDS with the South-South Niger Delta State of Akwa Ibom. It is well known Nigeria is a country that suffers a great deal from AIDS, so we want to have the support system to detect the people with the disease,” Guerrero says. “It’s an example of how we collaborate with other institutions. Recently we started working with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to develop an 85km road to the farthest communities near the Atlantic. We will develop a road to integrate communities in the Niger Delta to the mainland bringing them power, communication, resources, and natural gas. It’s a massive project we’ve engaged in with the Niger Delta Development Commission, which when completed, will link the remote Oil Producing Communities of Kula, Idama, Belema and others to Port-Harcourt City and the rest of Nigeria.
Telling A New Story
Looking forward, Belemaoil’s ambitions are to build new wells, carry out workovers, and perform interventions to rehabilitate its facilities and increase production.
“The challenges are there but we have an excellent team, and a Founder/President who inspires a lot of energy,” Guerrero says. “He represents the whole company at different levels. We believe we will get the support we need to move ahead.”
But more than that, Belemaoil is looking to set an example for the entire industry.
“We want to set the baseline for other operators and send the message that a peaceful and stable operation is most likely to be achievable if you maintain a good relationship with local host communities,” Guerrero argues. “If a company has been in other countries and leaves a location, leaving behind empty houses and abandoned wells, that is very sad. If you leave a place you leave a positive mark. These schools, these hospitals, this power that Belemaoil came to develop, that is the message we want to send. We hope other companies will emulate us and work to change the narrative of the oil and gas sector.”