Fishermen operating along the Santa Barbra River and Nembe creeks in Bayelsa State on Wednesday, November 24, 2021 lamented the adverse impact of the Nov. 5 oil leak from Aiteo’s oilfield in the area.
The management of Aiteo, an indigenous oil firm which operates the Oil Mining Lease (OML) 29, says the leak remains ongoing even as it has sought foreign technical assistance to cap the leaking oil well.
Meanwhile, the oil firm has said that it had yet to ascertain the volume of crude discharged into the environment.
Chief Kellcy Ayebaemi-Dio, Chairman, Torusun Fishing Communities/settlements, said on Wednesday that the volume of oil leaked had overwhelmed the predominantly fishing population.
He said the spill had thrown residents of the 41 fishing settlements in the Nembe speaking area of Bayelsa out of business, following the pollution of the waters and contamination of their fishing gears.
“Our artisanal fishing vocation has been threatened and halted abruptly and the daily income from our daily expedition has ceased for about three weeks now.
“Life has been difficult and we are even exposed to gas pollution on a daily basis.
“The well, we are meant to understand, is a gas well consisting 80 per cent of gas and 20 per cent of crude and all the response has been on oil recovery and nothing is done about gas.
“The ratio speaks volumes of the danger before us as our people face respiratory difficulties.
“We are told that Aiteo sent relief materials but the quantity that trickled down to each community of about 200 people was less than two bags each of rice, garri and beans.
“The relief materials are grossly inadequate and we have lost daily income while the leak has lasted,” he stated.
Ayebaemi-Dio urged the Bayelsa State Government to emulate Aiteo and “come to our aid at this point, being a state that earns billions of naira from the oil derivation fund monthly.”
It will be recalled that the state government had berated Aiteo’s suggish pace of response to the spill and its inability to plug the pinging leak.
The state government had warned the oil firm to be ready to take responsibility for polluting the waterways.
By Nathan Nwakamma