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Aiteo activates recovery plan for Bayelsa oil spill as stakeholders demand compensation

By Obiabin Onukwugha

An environmental body, Ondewari Health Education, and Environmental Project [OHEEP], has called for proper investigation into the oil spill that occurred at OML29 facility operated by Aiteo in Nembe Creek, Bayelsa State.

OHEEP also called for immediate clean-up, remediation and compensation for people of Nembe to restore the livelihood of the people that have been affected by the oil spill and the polluted waters.

The spill, which was reported to have occurred on Monday, is one of several spills from the facility, originally operated by Shell before it was divested to Aiteo Eastern E&P in 2015.

It was gathered that the spill occurred after a mishap, as a violent tidal wave on Monday dislodged a vessel being loaded from the crude storage facility at the shallow offshore facility operated by the indigenous firm, discharging large volumes of crude blend into the Atlantic Ocean

Aiteo resorted to using barges to convey crude from the Nembe fields following persistent vandalism on the 97 kilometre Nembe Creek Trunkline NCTL) that hitherto fed the Bonny Oil Export Terminal with about 180,000 barrels crude oil per day in Rivers State.

It was gathered that the barges, smaller vessels are used to transport crude from onshore oil wells to a Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel from which Aiteo exports the Nembe Crude blend to crude tankers in the Atlantic Ocean.

Reacting to the incident, Executive Director of OHEEP and foremost environmental activist, Morris Alagoa, called condemned the decision of Aiteo to build a tank farm and evacuate its crude oil without proper environmental Impact Assessment.

Alagoa, in an interview with our correspondent on Thursday, recalled that himself and other environmentalists had earlier raised concerns about the facility built by Aiteo and called for proper monitoring of Aiteo’s activities in the area to avoid further pollution of the environment.

The environmental activist also called for prompt action from relevant authorities to forestall further spills.

“Before now, I and other environmentalists have raised concerns that proper EIA was not carried out before Aiteo came to the creeks to build a tank farm and load crude oil.

“Recently, when I passed through the creeks I saw crude floating on the river and now I am not surprised that this spill has occured. The people’s source of livelihood, the waters, their fishing nets have now been destroyed by the oil spill.

“We are calling for prompt action from the relevant authorities for immediate remediation, cleanup and compensation and the facility needs to be monitored,” he said.

Meanwhile, the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) has confirmed the oil spill.

Head of NOSDRA’s Field Office in Yenagoa, Mr Solomon Ukponevi, who confirmed the development to newsmen, said the oil firm reported the incident on Tuesday.

He explained that the agency has deployed its officials to the spill site to ascertain the cause and volume of crude oil discharged into the environment and that the Joint Investigative Visit (JIV) will determine the level of impact and volume of crude spilled.

The Aiteo in its response to the soill says it has halted production from the facility after detecting an oil leak. Aiteo Eastern E&P reported that the leak was discovered on June 17 during routine operations.

Aiteo, in a statement by its Managing Director, Victor Okoronkwo, noted that its Oil Spill and Emergency Response Team was immediately activated, and all production from OML 29 was shut down as a precautionary measure to mitigate the impact of the incident.

“While we regret the production losses and the potential environmental impact, our current priority is to expedite an efficient spill management process in line with regulatory standards and collaborate with all stakeholders to restore production and mitigate associated risks,” the statement read in part.


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