The National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) has dismissed as “guess work“ claims from several parties on the volume and the cause of ongoing leak from Aiteo’s oilfield at Nembe, Bayelsa State.
The Bayelsa government attributes the incident to equipment failure while the oil firm claims the leak was caused by sabotage.
Gov. Douye Diri of Bayelsa, who visited the site on Wednesday, 25 days after the leak, claimed that about two million barrels of Bonny Light crude stream had polluted the Santa Barbra River and Nembe Creeks.
President Muhamadu Buhari had on Nov. 25 directed the Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva, to empathise with the impacted community and ensure adequate response took place.
However, Mr Idris Musa, Director-General of NOSDRA, in an updated video published on the spill regulatory agency’s website on Friday, December 3, 2021, said that only a Joint Investigative Visit (JIV) would determine the cause and volume of spill.
Musa said that such positions being canvassed by different interest groups were prejudicial to the statutory investigation which was hampered by the ongoing leak.
According to him, NOSDRA has been monitoring developments at the spill site while officials deployed to the spill site are keeping an eye on the oil recovery process.
He noted that the agency relied on empirical evidence to draw its conclusions and emphasised that until the spill was stopped and the affected well examined, it was premature to suggest the cause.
Musa said that it was also premature to estimate the volume of crude spilled so far given because the well was a non-producing well consisting 80 per cent of gas and 20 per cent of crude.
He, however, said that records at the agency’s disposal indicate that some 4,150 barrels of oil and water residue were recovered few days ago, adding that a JIV report would indicate the total spill volume.
Mr Andrew Oru, Global Director/Coordinator, Aiteo Group, who visited the incident site on Thursday, said that the leak was being contained as foreign experts who were engaged to stop the leak were close to target.
Oru said that the pressure of the spewing gas and oil had reduced drastically while intensive oil recovery was ongoing to reduce impact on the environment.
He further said that the oil firm had sent a second batch of five truckloads of relief materials, including food items, medical supplies and sanitation items to lessen the adverse impact of the incident on the people of Nembe.
Oru also said that the claims that an estimated two million barrels had leaked since the leak started on Nov. 5, were spurious and baseless.
According to him, verified reserve from the well was nothing close to the volume claimed.
By Nathan Nwakamma