Mr Emmanuel Opute Konyebagu, MD PPL
An interview the managing Director/Chief Executive officer, Platform Petroleum Company. Mr Emmanuel Opute Konyebagu in this interview, he speaks of the company, the communities, and the ongoing gas plant.
He spoke during the commissioning of some community executed projects and the new MoU between the companies its joint partner, NewCross Petroleum Limited and the communities.
Q: How do you feel the actualization of the signing of the new MoU with the communities and commissioning of some community assisted project, considering the timing and tensions always associated with signing of MoU?
EOK: The cardinal principal of our community relating to management is a win win principle that is; the community has to partner with the company in such a way that the operation will benefit both parties, which is the principle in which we operate our community relationship model. That principle is a two side coin, one it has to do with what can we show tangibly, what can we show intangibly.
The tangible and intangible aspect constitutes our corporate responsibilities, but this stands on a tripods, one of the fundamental tripods is the MoU, which regulates the relationship between the company and the communities. No doubt consummating MoU is always strenuous exercise, we as a company, a joint venture, did not find it smooth. But, again what is the ultimate, at the end of the day, both party would be able to have a landing, and that is while after the strenuous exercise we are happy that the company and the communities had signed the new MoU, even when it was seen that it will not be possible, and because of our principle we were able to have a common ground possible for us to do that. An acceptable working document best for the parties.
As a company and a JV, we are not only delighted on the signing of the new MoU, but our contribution to oil operating communities as can be witnessed in the commissioning of the various projects (Town Halls, Okpala-Uku palace water projects and staff quarter for the medical centre, we are very happy)
Q: How do you intend to improve on the already achieved relationship between your company and communities under your operation?
EOK: I always believe, and I still believe that for us to have a smooth operation, and a good working environment, the communities cannot be neglected. Days are gone when you think communities are not relevant in operation. But today they are very relevant in operation, and that is why we came up with that model of win win. We are not here to exploit the resources and leave them endangered as i said in Umutu and other places, no one MoU is a complete model. Each year you identify the weakness and correct them, in subsequent one.
One way to sustain and improve on the already existing relationship between the company and the communities is to ensure the trust to the communities that the company has signed this and is committed to ensure what they signed is implemented. Another is relationship, once you build relationship it becomes much easier to manage community relationship than when you wait till you have problem. To do this you need community relationship team that will be committed to your MoU and as much be transparent to the implementation of the MoU.
Those key issues will establish trust and confidence. The company thinks the communities are over demanding, the communities think the company is lying. So when both shows commitment and in good faith that is trust and that is good community relationship
Q: What is your company’s policy on gas flaring?
EOK: Platform/NewCross JV from inception has issue of gas flaring on their mission, that it will not be associated with us. That is why we are one of the few marginal field operators, just a year in operation; we embarked into a gigantic, project the gas plant. The objective of that is to maximize the use of the gas in our system as well as eliminating gas flares. Because it is money that is being flared. Because we are indigenous company it will be the best practice for us to end gas flaring, to keep our environment clean. We have moral responsibilities to ensure that our environment is clean and safe. And one of the key ways to ensure that is to see that the gas plant is in operation and in few months from now, that gas plant will become operational.