Tuesday, July 5, 2022

More trouble for Aiteo, Nembe communities as contractor threaten to exit oil spill contract

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By Adewale Sanyaolu

There appears to be no respite for Nembe communities in Bayelsa State as contractor engaged by Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production(AEEPCO) to checkmate  the over one month of oil spill from a ruptured well head in Oil Mining Lease(OML) 29 have pulled out.

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AEEPCO, operator of the NNPC/Aiteo Joint Venture of OML 29 had on November 5, 2021, reported a hydrocarbon well head leak in its Santa Barbara, Southwest field in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.

The decision by Haliburton to disengage from the containment of the oil spill, VELOXNEWS learnt was connected to the inability of AEEPCO to have an agreement on terms of payments.

It was, however learnt; at the weekend that Halliburton has officially notified AEEPCO of its decision to pull out of the deal.

Speaking to VELOXNEWS in a telephone interview, Project Officer/Head of Niger Delta Resource Centre at Environmental Rights Action (ERA)/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Mr. Morris Alagoa, said it is a calamity and major setback that the company engaged to contain the spill has decided to pull out, saying this is the time for the Federal Government to step in and address this issue for the sake of the people of Niger Delta.

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The ERA project officer, has however, called on the Minister of Petroleum Resources, President Muhammadu Buhari, to show empathy by visiting the scene of the spill in order to calm frailed nerves, saying the assurance given by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Timipre Sylva, that the spill will be contained in two days after his visit had lapsed.

Alagoa, recalled that in 1980 when there was a similar spill President Shehu Shagari in company of Governor Melford Okilo, visited the scene.

Alagoa, said ERA was the first to NGO group that lead the team of other NGOs to visit the site on November 21, 2021, saying what they saw was devastating and the destruction of the ecosystem of Nembe.

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He said it remained worrisome that over one month the Federal Government has been unable to address the pollution, saying Nigeria has over 60 per cent in the NNPC/JV but has not done enough to contain the spill.

He lamented that the problem at hand has gone beyond Aiteo which is just a small indigenous company but rather should involve industry collaboration and the entire oil industry, involving all the International Oil Company (IOCs).

‘‘It is very unfair for the Federal Government that gets the lion share of the OML 29 JV and the entire industry to leave this alone for a young indigenous company to confront,’’.

The environmentalist said the oil spill has now spread to parts of Rivers State which he said is now threatening the means of livelihood of the people of Niger Delta who are majorly fishermen and farmers.

The rupture according to ERA  is releasing oil, fumes into the surrounding area.

The field produced about 27,000 barrels per day in 2020, according to information published by NNPC.

Aiteo said it has so far recovered at least 3,000 barrels of emulsified crude oil from the surrounding river spills are from a non-Producing well on OML 29.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) has reiterated its commitment to tackle oil spills in the Nigerian oil and gas sector in fulfillment of its regulatory mandate as enshrined in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021, Petroleum Act and the Petroleum (Drilling and Production) Regulations and subsidiary legislations.

NUPRC said the assurance has become necessary following concerns trailing the oil spill incident of November 3, 2021 which occurred at the Santa Barbara Well 1 operated by AEEPCO Company in Bassambiri, Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.

The post More trouble for Aiteo, Nembe communities as contractor threaten to exit oil spill contract appeared first on VELOXNEWS.

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