Press Statement – 2 December, 2021
We the undersigned (as well as several other stakeholders) are seriously concerned with the yet-to-be-contained oil and gas blowout at Well #1 at the Santa Barbara River location, OML 29 at Opu Nembe in Bayelsa State. It is quite disturbing that AITEO’s gushing well is yet to be killed and capped after nearly one month since it started. This has caused severe damage to the surrounding environment and untold hardship on inhabitants of the nearby communities.
We have observed with dismay the reckless response to this spill by national and subnational institutions and leaders within the region. The fact that the well is still gushing at this point in time is a pointer to the failure of responsible agencies and the leaders to protect the poor inhabitants of the communities. The responsible agencies, leaders and politicians continue to disregard protection of the inhabitants of the communities on whose land and geographical areas the crude oil or gas resources resides.
The reckless response in containing the spill right from the onset by AITEO and the officials listed below is unacceptable.
- President Mohammed Buhari, GCFR, Minster of Petroleum Resources
- Chief Timipre Silva, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources
- Engr Gbenga Komolafe, CEO of Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC)
- Idris Musa, DG of National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA)
- Mallam Mele Kyari, GMD of NNPC Ltd
- Ahmed Mustapha Habib, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA)
- Senator Douye Diri, Executive Governor of Bayelsa State Government
- Members of Bayelsa State House of Assembly
- Members of the National Assembly, particularly the Senators and Representatives from Bayelsa State
- Ijaw National Congress (INC) Leadership
- Traditional and Community Leaders from Bayelsa State
To address the danger to the livelihood, safety and health of the community people, we demand the following:
- The well should be killed and capped without further delay. NNPC Ltd and the international oil companies (IOCs) should collaborate with AITEO to kill the well in accordance with global best practice.
- Intervention by NEMA on the basis of the highest level of emergency, to provide relief material and medical attention to the poor inhabitants of the affected communities.
- Conduct assessment of health and safety needs, including epidemiology and fire vulnerability.
- Mobilize the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and IDPs to the affected communities to cater for needs of any IDPs.
- Call on Nigerian and international donor, development and social aid bodies (UNDP, UNICEF, USAID, Red Cross, Caritas, Open Society Institute, MacArthur Foundation, etc.) to come to the aid of the affected communities.
To prevent a reoccurrence of this very ugly situation in the future and the consistent poor handling of pollution from oil spills the recommendations below should be followed:
- An independent inquiry team of UN and NGO’s within and outside Bayelsa State should be setup to investigate the spill.
- The regulatory and supervisory MDAs should ensure fair and transparent joint investigation visits (JIVs) and post-spill impact assessments immediately after spills and similar incidents in a timely manner.
- Ensure expert representation of affected communities to break from old habit of shoddy and lopsided JIVs and constant failure to conduct post spill impact assessment (PSIA).
- Direct NNPC Ltd, NUPRC and the operating companies to immediately commission a region-wide decommissioning and abandonment programme for disused or orphaned sites in line with global best practice.
- Establish a “UNEP-HYPREP” type independent and internationally credible environmental clean-up, remediation and restoration programme for the Niger Delta region. This should also entail recertification of supposedly cleaned-up sites, in view of the certification scandal concerning some NOSDRA-certified “cleaned-up” sites, e.g., Ikarama in Bayelsa State, and poor results from HYPREP (also certified by NOSDRA) in the ongoing Ogoni Cleanup.
- Make immediate adequate provision in the 2022 FG budget to establish the National Oil Spill Control and Response Centre as prescribed in the NOSDRA Act.
- Give presidential assent to the NOSDRA Act Amendment Bill. NOSDRA should be adequately funded to make it independent and self-equipped. Also, its Head Office should be relocated to the region.
- Set up a Community Expert Representation and Pollution Insurance Fund
It is unfortunate that despite the fact that blowouts like this and the resultant pollution and destruction of the environment and habitat are foreseeable fallouts of oil exploration activities, the Federal Government and the NNPC have not shown capacity to respond adequately to such. Henceforth, the Federal Government and NNPC must develop capacity to respond to massive well blowout in order to protect the poor inhabitants in the oil producing communities if they must continue to appropriate the resources of the Niger Delta. AITEO/NNPC Ltd must be more responsive and proactive in managing this terrible development.
Mr. Efiye Bribena
Mr. Ben Amaebi Okoro
Chief Amagbe D. Kentebe
Ms. Annkio Briggs
Mr. Elaye Otrofanowei
Hon. Iniruo Wills
Mrs. Rosemary John-Oduone
8A Saka Tinubu Street, Victoria Island