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 Shell, Bayelsa community at loggerheads over oil spillage

Shell, Bayelsa community at loggerheads over oil spillage

THE NATION

An oil spillage in Bayelsa State has pitted an oil major, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), with its host community over the cause and alleged delayed visit to site following the incident.

SPDC on Friday confirmed an oil leak incident from its facility at Agbura-Otuokpoti in Yenagoa Local Government Area of the state just as the impacted communities lament the negative impact of the quantum oil discharged by the spill.

SPDC’s claims to have responded swiftly after the spills have been countered by affected residents who alleged that as of Friday, spill response had yet to commence.

Reacting to the incident, SPDC’s Media Relations Manager, Mr Bamidele Odugbesan, said on Friday in a terse statement that the oil firm got a report of the leak incident on March 31.

He said: “At about 8.30am on 31 March 2021, a community surveillance vendor reported a leak on Shell Petroleum Development Company Limited (SPDC) Joint Venture pipeline at Nun River in Bayelsa State.

“Following the report, the facility was shut down and full isolation established at 09.45am. The SPDC Oil Spill Response Team was mobilised to the spill site and was able to contain the spill to prevent further spread.

“The Joint Investigation Visit team led by government regulator will determine the cause of the spill and the impact, though there was an anonymous note found at the spill site suggesting the spill was caused by sabotage.”

But residents said the leakage discharged large volumes of crude oil into the river resulting in pollution of the waters which the predominantly fishing and farming settlements depend on.

An environmentalist, Mr Collins Jackson, said the spill was discovered in the early hours of Wednesday when the people noticed large volumes of crude oil floating on the river.

Jackson, who dismissed claims of prompt response by the oil firm and suggestion of sabotage, said that he visited the incident site with members of the community and did not find any oil worker while the oil discharge was going on.

He said: “The claim of an anonymous note suggesting sabotage is at best a fallacy because we visited the place immediately our people noticed oil on water and we did not see any note. Why will SPDC jump into conclusion when the investigation has not been concluded?

“The theory of sabotage is funny because the pipeline is corroded and has signs of loss of integrity due to age. Also, the site is close to a security outpost, so the possibility of a vandal gaining access is very slim.

“The position that the spill might be a sabotage was discarded when we later got to the spill point and the pipeline was found to be corroded.

“That is why there is a disagreement that is yet to be resolved among the regulators, communities and state government officials working on the Joint Investigation.”

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