Investigations into the cause of the November 5 spill at Oil Mining Lease (OML) 29 in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa will resume on Wednesday, December 22, 2021.
The Minister of State for Environment, Mrs Sharon Ikeazor, made this known on Tuesday, December 21, after visiting the leak site at the oilfield operated by an indigenous oil firm, Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Exploration Company.
The National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) had on Nov. 6 visited the leak site to ascertain the cause of the leak from a non-producing well.
The pressure and intensity of the gas and crude leak reportedly hampered the process.
The agency subsequently directed the operator of the oilfield to shut the leak, but it persisted until Dec. 8 when the leak was plugged.
Ikeazor gave the assurance that the Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) would be conducted in a transparent manner, noting that the Federal Government ensured prompt response from the first day of the incident.
The JIV is a statutory probe that follows every reported leak incident.
“It is done by representatives of the oil firm, affected communities, regulators and state ministry of environment to ascertain the cause and estimated volume of spilled crude oil.
Ikeazor noted that NOSDRA had been on the incident site to ensure that the oil leak was contained within the locality to avert further damage to the environment.
According to her, 16,200 barrels of crude oil and water sediments have been recovered so far.
She said that the response to the incident reduced the impact on the environment.
Ikeazor said that the JIV report would determine the next course of action.
According to her, if the leak is traced to equipment failure, the victims will be compensated but if it is found to be caused by sabotage, there will be no compensation.
Mr Idris Musa, Director-General of NOSDRA, who accompanied the minister alongside officials of Aiteo, said that the agency was doing its best to mitigate the resultant pollution.
He said that the site had suffered several pollution incidents, adding that the devastation observed was not only caused by the latest incident.
He said that the calm nature of the Santa Barbra River was responsible for the high recovery rate of spilled crude which was largely trapped by booms deployed to reduce spread of leaked crude.
Aiteo had in 2015 acquired OML 29 for about $2.4 billion following Shell’s divestment.
The asset consists the 97km Nembe Creek Trunk Line which evacuates crude from onshore oil wells within the oil bloc and other operators to Bonny Export Terminal.
By Nathan Nwakamma