Fifty-nine years after its crude oil hits the market, Oloibiri Oil Well in Ogbia in Bayelsa, has been transformed to a tourist attraction by the military.
The country’s first oil well was renovated by the 16 Brigade of Nigerian Army as part of ongoing Operation Crocodile Smile II.
The state’s Deputy Governor, Retired Rear Admiral John Jonah, commended the military when he visited the historic site where the story of oil begun in the country.
Commercial oil production commenced at the Oil Well in 1958, launching Nigeria as an oil exporting country.
Jonah thanked Nigerian Army “for humanitarian services it had been rendering to the people of the area”.
“It is not easy to leave your families and go elsewhere to secure the country and individuals at the risk of your own lives.
“The rumour that the military was administering fake vaccines in the past weeks had been put to rest.
“The fact is that a training exercise is on-going to bring out the best in the Army and further make our areas safer.’’
The people, he said, commend the Army for the wisdom to renovate the oil well in Otuabagi town because it will greatly promote tourism.
The 16 Brigade stationed in Yenagoa, Bayelsa, remodelled the oil well and made it a tourism site and provided free bus shuttle services to tourists from the Brigade Headquarters to the oil well for one week, while the military operation in the state lasted.
The Oloibiri Oil Well I in Ogbia Local Government was operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) of Nigeria and produced 50,000 barrels of crude per day during its hey days.
Earlier, the Commander, 16 Brigade, Brig.-Gen. Kelvin Aligbe, said the renovation was part of the brigade’s community relations activities aimed at enhancing effective civil-military relations in its area of responsibility.
He said the priorities of the 16 Brigade were — protection of lives and property of residents, as well as securing oil and gas infrastructure.
Aligbe urged the public to explore the unique tourist attractions the Oloibiri Oil Well brought to Nigeria.
He said the army’s gesture would attract tourists, oil and gas history enthusiasts within and outside the country.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, also commended the efforts of 16 Brigade for the Operation Crocodile Smile ll and for rehabilitating the Oloibiri Oil Well.
Represented by General Officer Commanding, (GOC), 6 Brigade, Nigeria Army, Maj. Gen. Enobong Udoh, Buratai said the operation was being conducted in Niger Delta and the South West, including Lagos.
He said the operation, launched on Oct. 13 in Lagos, would last for a period of one month from the commencement date.
He added that it was aimed at curbing crime and creating conducive atmosphere for investors to come to Nigeria.
In her remark, the Caretaker Committee Chairman of Ogbia Local Government, Mrs Naomi Ogorli, represented by the Vice Chairman, Mr Ebinyor Turna, also commended the 16 Brigade for rehabilitating the environment surrounding the oil well.
He urged the state government to assist in rehabilitation the road leading to the oil well to add more value to the tourist site and make the experience of tourists meaningful.
The Army boss, Buratai, launched Operation Crocodile Smile II on Oct. 13, a military drill and training exercise aimed at sharpening the making troops combat ready, scheduled to last for one month. (NAN)