The Nembe Creek Trunk Line (NCTL) resumed normal operations on Thursday, March 7, 2019 following the plugging of a leak which necessitated the shutdown of the facility on Feb. 28.
A spokesperson for Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production the operator of the 97 km NCTL, Mr Masade Odianosen, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday, March 10 that the facility “is up and running’’.
The development has allayed fears of a major disruption of oil export on the export pipeline that evacuates up to 150,000 barrels of crude daily to the Bonny Oil Export Terminal.
The Aiteo spokesperson said that the NCTL was restarted while the joint investigation of the March 1 explosion from Oil Well No.7 within Nembe Creek oilfields, a totally unrelated incident to the NCTL was in progress.
The official explained that the NCTL was not in operation when the explosion from an oil well within the OML 29 oil block occurred.
The National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) had said on Friday, March 8 that it had commenced investigations into the explosion located within OML 29 operated by Aiteo Eastern Exploration.
The blast ignited a fire which Aiteo officials said was put off on March 2, had already discharged crude oil and gas into the environment with no loss of lives recorded.
The volume of crude oil and gas discharged into the surrounding environment arising from the explosion is yet to be ascertained.
Dr Peter Idabor, the Director-General of NOSDRA, also confirmed that a Joint Investigative Visit (JIV) had been convened by the operator.
The D-G explained that the JIV, a statutory probe of leak incidents in the oil and gas sector would determine the cause of the explosion, the volume of oil leakage as well as assess damage to the environment.
He said that a JIV report signed by representatives of the community, NOSDRA, Bayelsa Government and the oil firm who participated in the investigation was expected at the end of the probe.
The Aiteo official said that the JIV team was yet to arrive at a conclusion on the cause of the blast.
“The JIV is still ongoing; it was not rounded up as we progressed with physical inspections without arriving at the probable cause from physical examinations.
“There appears the need for a more detailed and technical assessment to understand the primary cause of the incident prior to explosion that is more visible at moment on the riser.
“The investigation therefore requires further details and is still open,” Odianosen said.
However, a statement from Odianosen on March 2, confirmed that there was no human casualty.
Aiteo pledged that investigation into the incident was of utmost priority.
It said that the explosion did not affect the 97 km Nembe Creek Trunk Line (NCTL) which was shut down on Feb. 28 prior to the incident.
“The NCTL from our findings at the field is up and running as the incident did not in any way have links with the pipeline,” Aiteo said.
Shell Petroleum Development Company in 2015 divested its equity in OML 29 and transferred its interest in the oil block including NCTL for $1.7 billion to Aiteo.
By Nathan Nkwakama