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Aiteo Bayelsa field spill site still discharging crude a week after – NOSDRA

The National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) on Thursday, said that the oil spill reported at an oil well within Oil Mining Lease (OML) 29 was yet to abate, officials of the agency who visited the site have reported.

Mr Idris Musa, Director-General of NOSDRA, in his reaction to the development,said on Thursday, that the intensity of the leak was hampering investigations at the incident site.

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“A spill was reported by AITEO at her Santa Barbara well 1 well head on Nov. 5, 2021. Joint Investigation visit to the site was carried out on Nov. 6, 2021.

“Due to the continuous spraying of Crude oil from the well head, the cause of the spill was not determined by the joint investigation team, which comprised NOSDRA, DPR , State Ministry of Environment and Community representatives.

“AITEO was directed to shut in the well, so that Proper JIV will be conducted on this facility.

“Recovery of free phase oil was ongoing as at the time of this visit. AITEO was also directed to deploy more booms to contain the spilled crude oil.

” As at Nov. 10, 2021 and according to AITEO, efforts are still ongoing to ensure that the well is shut in within the shortest possible time,” Musa said.

Meanwhile, AiteoEastern Exploration and Production, in a statement on Wednesday, said it was yet to ascertain the volume of the crude that had been discharged into the surrounding environment.

The statement signed by the spokesman of the company, Mr Mathew Ndianabasi also said the oil firm suspected sabotage as the cause of the spill.

But, Mr Iniruo Wills, an Environmentalist and former Commissioner for Environment in Bayelsa, dismissed the suggestion of sabotage, given that investigation into the cause of the leak was yet to commence.

“Is anyone ascribing it to sabotage? Anybody or official ascribing this recklessly caused ecological disaster to sabotage needs a psychiatric examination.

“You cannot keep raping communities and at the same time tarring them with the brush of collective criminalization.

“There was a massive spill that went on for a week at that same Santa Barbara Well 1 in OML 29 operated by Aiteo over two years ago.

“Like roughly thirty or more other spills spanning across that same oil bloc in the few years since Aiteo started operating the bloc, that 2019 spill from the same well has neither been cleaned up, remediated nor compensated for”, he said.

Wills added: “The community is still engaging with regulators – particularly NOSDRA – and AITEO, practically begging for redress while still suffering the unmitigated impacts of that spill and many others.

“This is even after a post-spill impact assessment was eventually conducted, after several months of pressing for it.

“Now, this mega spill disaster is going on from that same well for about a week now, in a country with virtually zero installed spill-response capacity.

“ Several oil industry experts who viewed the video clip have likened it to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon disaster and the 2012 Chevron K S Endeavour catastrophe in Koluama, Nigeria.

“And they have pointed to the likelihood of it being a gas pressure release from pent-up gas over the years from a capped and abandoned non-producing well.

“Beyond Aiteo, whose operations have made its predecessor, Shell, look like saints, this incident once again challenges the Government of Nigeria and industry regulators to wake up to their statutory duties.

“It makes the Nigerian delegation to the ongoing COP 26 Climate Change summit in Glasgow look like they went on an idle and pretentious frolic.

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“While oil and gas are gushing out uncontrolled on poor populations and the corporate culprits continue to make callous diversionary statements with impunity, as if they considered the entire Nigerian public to be foolish and gullible.” (NAN)

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