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Environmentalists, residents lament indiscriminate gas burning, leaks from Agip’s facility in Bayelsa

Environmentalists and residents on Wednesday, February 24, 2021 raised concerns over the dangers faced by residents near the Ogboinbiri Oilfield operated by Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC) in Southern Ijaw Local government Area in Bayelsa State.

Douye Diri
Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State

Residents from the area fled their homes on Monday following pungent odour from gas leaks which polluted the air as a result of “production flare” to burn off excess gas and reduce pressure in the oil and gas facility.

According to them, the huge balls of flames emitted unbearable heat which compelled them to leave their residences.

Tiedor Duabor, who resides in the area, said that high temperature from the flares forced him and family to leave their abode at a nearby fishing port.

“It has not been easy here sometimes in the night when they flare everywhere will be full of light and you cannot sleep.

“On Monday the heat was something else we had to hurry and run for our lives,” Tiedor said.

The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) in a field report noted that the continued pollution by gas leakages and excessive flares have degraded the quality of air in the area.

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According to the report signed by Mr Alagoa Morris, Head of Field operations at ERA/FoEN,  the safety of Ogboinbiri community where the natives are daily exposed to gas flaring from flow stations in the area operated by NAOC has been compromised.

The group therefore urged the federal government to conduct an environmental audit or post impact assessment of the community, to be funded by the operator of the field.

ERA/FoEN described the Ogboinbiri situation as pathetic due to the intensity of the roaring flares from the two vertical gas flare stacks in the area which sometimes causes panic among the natives.

The report stated that the residents of the area also face extreme heat, buildings vibration, pollution of their source of drinking water, destruction of roofing sheets and health concerns among others.

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“It is, however, unfortunate that people living in a community like Ogboinbiri that is so close to two vertical gas flare stacks burning daily, cannot access the medical facility in the community due to the high cost of medical services and drugs.

“The main community where people live is approximately about 600-800 meters from the vertical gas flare stacks. 

“Ordinarily these victims of Agip’s illegal flaring of gas ought to be given special medical attention and properly relocated within the community environment; as was the case of Finima and the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in Bonny, Rivers State.

“This is even more so, considering the life threatening overflowing of the gas and vibrations at the flare site so nearby. Where there is a sense of social and environmental justice, the people of Ogboinbiri cannot be left the way they are left behind.

“The Ogboinbiri oilfield is within OML 63 and the Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited has been exploiting crude oil and gas from the community environment since the Ogboinbiri Flow Station was established in the late 1980s.

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“Presently the Ogboinbiri oilfield has 17 viable or functional oil wells, from which Agip has continued to extract crude oil and gas till date, producing 50,000 bbls/d (fifty thousand barrels of crude oil per day) and 180 million cubic feet of gas daily.

“With all the resources taken daily from the community by Agip and NNPC Joint venture and 13 per cent derivation accruing monthly to Bayelsa State, it is unthinkable that such a community is denied portable water and affordable health facilities.

“This is alienation by the government and it is simply unjust,” the report reads in part.

Public Affairs officials at Eni, parent company of NAOC, declined to comment on the reported indiscriminate flares and gas leaks by members of its host community when contacted for response.

By Nathan Nwakamma

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