The National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) and environmentalists have expressed concern over the environmental impact of Conoil Producing Limited’s operations in Bayelsa State.
The concern was raised over the firm’s alleged insensitivity to the sustenance of the environment where it operates, and perceived failure to appropriately respond to an undersea leak in its oilfield pipeline in the state, since Sept. 3 , 2020.
NOSDRA Director General, Idris Musa, had confirmed the incident on Dec. 2, 2020 and berated the company for operating in breach of regulatory guidelines.
On Tuesday, January 5, 2021, Musa said in Yenogoa, the state capital, that the oil firm had the habit of causing avoidable spills and had previously been sanctioned for degrading the environment.
“This oil company has been spilling oil for a period of time now, from our findings, it is from an underwater pipeline under pressure creating bubbles on the water surface.
“All the directives given to it to contain the oil spill, shut down and replace the leaking pipeline, near shore in Sangana, Bayelsa, fell on deaf ears.
“The agency sanctioned the company for this untoward act, but nothing has changed. The leakage continues and the oil company behaves irresponsibly even though it is a Nigerian oil firm,” Musa said.
The leak reportedly emanated from Conoil’s facility known as “Aunty Julie platform” within Oil Mining Lease 59, at Otuo Oilfield.
According to information on the company’s website, the facility, a mobile offshore production unit commissioned in 1999, has capacity to produce 80,000 barrels of crude daily.
Meanwhile, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) says it is disturbed by the unsafe environmental practices at an offshore oilfield operated by Conoil.
In a report on the issue signed by Mr Alagoa Morris, Head, ERA/FoEN Niger Delta Resource Centre in Yenagoa, the group said the posture of Conoil, despite regulatory sanctions, left much to be desired as the adverse impact of the operation was borne by host communities.
ERA/FoEN lamented the failure of Conoil Plc to respond to the oil spill from its facility, which had affected several communities near the oil facility in Akassa Kingdom, and in the Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa, for four months since the incident was revealed.
The incident occurred at the indigenous oil firm’s Otuo Field Well 13 on Sept. 3, 2020, according to the ERA/FoEN report which indicated that the leak was yet to be plugged as spilled crude continued spreading and polluting Akassa and coastal communities along the Atlantic shoreline.
The report quoted the Chairman, United Fishing Union of Sangana, Ikonikumo Noel, as lamenting that the spill had wiped out generations of fishes, as well as adversely affected aquatic life that constituted the region’s food chain.
“The oil spill happened on Sept. 3, 2020. We have been looking for a way for Conoil to, at least, shut down the facility so that the effect will not come to us.
“Fishes are dying in Sangana coastline seriously. But the company does not pay any attention,” Noel was quoted as saying.
The environmental rights group also quoted the Akassa Clan Youth Presidents’ Forum to have, in a letter dated Sept. 18, 2020, reported the incident to the office of the state Commissioner for Environment, but no action had been taken.
All efforts to get the reaction of the oil firm by e-mail, short message services and telephone calls to officials of the oil firm have remained unanswered.
By Nathan Nwakamma