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First Commercial Quantity Crude Not Found in Oloibiri – Court

Bayelsa State High Court sitting in Ogbia, Yenagoa, has ruled that Otuabagi community, not Oloibiri, is the host community to the oil well that first produced crude oil in commercial quantities in the country in 1956.

The court also ordered “Oloibiri community to desist from demanding a relocation of the Museum and Research Centre Project or any part thereof since the earmarked project can only be sited where artefacts, such as the first oil well, are located.”

Justice Simon Amaduobogha made the pronouncements in a consent judgment to settle a lawsuit marked OHC/10/2021, filed by the Oloibiri community of Bayelsa State.

The settlement was reached by parties following mediation by the Ijaw National Congress.

The Oloibiri community instituted the legal action against the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Bayelsa State Government, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, the Shell Petroleum Development Company Limited,  Otuabagi, Otuogidi and Opume communities in the Ogbia Local Government Area.

In addition, the court held that “The Oloibiri Museum and Research Centre be sited in Otuabagi – the birthplace where crude oil was first discovered in commercial quantities in 1956.”

By this outcome, the judgment, which cannot be appealed, has resolved an age-long contradiction over the rightful owners of the land where crude oil was first struck in commercial quantities and quality in Nigeria in 1956.

The ruling affirmed Otuabagi community in the Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State of Nigeria as the rightful owners of the Oloibiri oilfield.

Checks showed that the famed Oloibiri oilfield was made up of 21 oil wells. These wells were drilled and named sequentially, starting with the first discovery on  January 15, 1956, in Otuabagi, in the-then Oloibiri District, Brass Division, in pre-Independence Nigeria.

Consequently, Otuabagi hosted oil wells 1,2, 3, 5, 7,8,9,10, 11,13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21; Otuogidi hosted wells 6 and 12, and Opume hosted well 4 while Oloibiri community has none.

In 2021, the Federal Government approved the siting of the Museum and Research Centre project in Otuabagi, Otuogidi and Opume – landlords of the Oloibiri oilfield – at a cost of N117bn, and being developed by the Petroleum Technology Development Fund and the NCDMB with the SPDC and the Bayelsa State government as partners.

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