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 Aiteo Wellhead Leak: Environmentalist Rules Out Sabotage As Spill Continues

Aiteo Wellhead Leak: Environmentalist Rules Out Sabotage As Spill Continues


An Environmentalist and former Commissioner for Environment in Bayelsa, Mr. Mr Iniruo Wills, has dismissed the suggestion of sabotage when the investigation into the cause of the leak was yet to commence.

Wills was reacting to an oil leakage from Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company (AEEPCO), operator of Oil Mining Lease (OML 29) in Bayelsa state.

The leakage which started on Friday November 5 the volume of oil leakage is still flowing and Aiteo has confessed that the company is yet to determine the volume of leakage, more than a week after.

Wills continued: “Is anyone ascribing it to sabotage? Anybody or official ascribing this recklessly caused ecological disaster to sabotage needs a psychiatric examination.

“You cannot keep raping communities and at the same time tarring them with the brush of collective criminalization.

“There was a massive spill that went on for a week at that same Santa Barbara Well 1 in OML 29 operated by Aiteo over two years ago.

“Like roughly thirty or more other spills spanning across that same oil bloc in the few years since Aiteo started operating the bloc, that 2019 spill from the same well has neither been cleaned up, remediated nor compensated for.

“The community is still engaging with regulators – particularly NOSDRA – and AITEO, practically begging for redress while still suffering the unmitigated impacts of that spill and many others.

“This is even after a post-spill impact assessment was eventually conducted after several months of pressing for it.

“Now this mega spill disaster has been going on from that same well for about a week now in a country with virtually zero installed spill-response capacity.

“Several oil industry experts who viewed the video clip have likened it to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon disaster and the 2012 Chevron K S Endeavour catastrophe in Koluama, Nigeria.

“And they have pointed to the likelihood of it being a gas pressure release from pent-up gas over the years from a capped and abandoned non-producing well.

“Beyond Aiteo whose operations have made its predecessor, Shell, look like saints, this incident once again challenges the Government of Nigeria and industry regulators to wake up to their statutory duties.

“It makes the Nigerian delegation to the ongoing COP 26 Climate Change summit in Glasgow look like they went on an idle and pretentious frolic to Glasgow.

“While oil and gas are gushing out uncontrolled on poor populations and the corporate culprits continue to make callous diversionary statements with impunity, as if they consider the entire Nigerian public to be foolish and gullible,” Wills said .

The National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) on Thursday said the oil spill reported from an oil well within Oil Mining Lease (OML) 29 is yet to abate, according to feedback from officials deployed to the site.

Mr Idris Musa, Director-General of NOSDRA, on Thursday said the intensity of the leak was hampering investigations at the incident site.

“A Spill was reported by AITEO at her Santa Barbara well 1 well head on November 5, 2021. Joint Investigation Visit to the site was carried out on November 6, 2021.

“Due to the continuous spraying of Crude oil from the wellhead, the cause of the spill was not determined by the joint investigation team which comprised NOSDRA, DPR , State Ministry of Environment and Community representatives.

“AITEO was directed to shut in the well so that Proper JIV will be conducted on this facility.

“Recovery of free phase oil was ongoing as at the time of this visit. AITEO was also directed to deploy more booms to contain the spilled crude oil.

“As at today, November 10, 2021 and according to AITEO, efforts are still ongoing to ensure the well is shut in within the shortest possible time,” Musa said.

Meanwhile Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production in a statement on Wednesday said it was yet to ascertain the volume of the crude discharged into the surrounding environment.

The statement signed by spokesman of the company Mr Mathew Ndianabasi also said the oil firm suspects sabotage as the cause.

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