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Cause of explosion at Nembe Creek Oilfields still unknown – Government

The cause of the March 1, 2019 explosion from Oil Well No.7 within Nembe Creek oilfields remains unknown as the investigation into the incident enters day two, the Federal Government says.

Oil field explosion
An oil field explosion

The National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) said on Friday, March 8 that it had commenced investigations into the explosion located within OML 29 operated by Aiteo Eastern Exploration.

An explosion from an oil well within the oil block on March 1 ignited a fire which Aiteo officials said was put off on March 2, had already discharged crude oil and gas into the environment.

NOSDRA’s Director-General, Dr Peter Idabor, had told NAN in a telephone interview that a Joint Investigative Visit (JIV) had been scheduled for Thursday to ascertain the possible cause of the incident.

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The volume of crude oil and gas discharged into the surrounding environment arising from the explosion is yet to be ascertained

Idabor 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 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.

A member of the joint investigative team, who spoke to a NAN correspondent from the Nembe Creek field, said that the team was yet to arrive at a conclusion on the cause of the blast.

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“The JIV is still ongoing; it was not rounded up as we progressed with physical inspections on Thursday 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,” Donald Egba, a community representative on the JIV, said.

However, a statement signed by Management of the oil firm made available by its Public Relations Manager, Mr Ndiana-Abasi Mathew on March 2, confirmed that there was no human casualty.

Aiteo, an indigenous oil and gas exploration and production firm, pledged that investigation into the incident was of utmost priority.

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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.

However, fears that oil export would be affected by the outage of the 150,000 barrels per day capacity export line were allayed as the JIV team member who spoke to NAN said that the facility had been restarted.

“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.”

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

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