As part of measures to address the recent unfortunate oil spillage at Santa Barbara in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, the Federal Government has directed the exploration company, AITEO Eastern Exploration and Production Company Limited (AEEPCo) to halt operations in the area until a proper investigation is carried out and adequate measures put in place to ensure the safety of lives and property in the area.
The directives were contained in a statement by Saghir el Mohammed, Director, Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Environment, a copy of which was made available to journalists in Abuja on Tuesday.
It is recalled that the spill occurred on November 5, 2021, in a form of a fountain within the proximity of Opu Nembe Community at Well 1, Well Head located at the Southern Field of Sant Barbara.
According to the statement, upon receipt of the report of the incident, a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) comprising the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment, Community representatives and Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company was set up on November 6, 2021, to immediately address the situation.
Mohammed, in the statement, noted that the exercise was inclusive because of inaccessibility to the wellhead location due to the hydrocarbon fumes that saturated the atmosphere in the area.
“Consequently, the JIT directed AEEPCo to shut in the impacted asset (wellhead) for appropriate oil II response. Accordingly, AEEPCo deployed booms and skimmers to contain the spill crude oil from spreading.
“As of November 10, 2021, efforts to shut in the well has proven difficult due to inaccessibility. But to safeguard the environment and livelihood, staff from the NOSDRA’s Yenagoa Field Office were deployed to the site to monitor and give progress reports on the measures being taken to address the issue. There are further directives to AEEPCo to engage all relevant stakeholders in the spilt oil recovery process.
“In this vein, 3000 barrels of emulsified crude oil have been recovered and held in a recovery barge. Also, additional booms were deployed by the Clean Nigeria Associates, a Tier II response (CNA) System to work with the on-site recovery contractor.
“Further effort yielded result as containment and recovery within the leak area have been reinforced by 15th November. Clean Nigeria Associates (CNA) has mobilized to the site for enhanced containment and recovery. Boot & Coots, mobilized for good control and securing. AEEPCo has secured a temporary Work Permit for expatriates expected in the country for the activity. Logistics support and arrangement build-up for the Well kill activity are currently ongoing.
“Based on JIT reports, a well control company (Kenyon International) was at the incident location for an on-site assessment. Meanwhile, containment and recovery are still ongoing. It is instructive to note that the wellhead experts have arrived in Nigeria and will commence work on the killing of the well tomorrow.
“However, to ensure safety and guarantee future operations in the area by AEEPCo, NOSDRA has mandated the company to carry out concrete actions to address the situation that include clean-up of impacted areas, remediation of spill site as well as damage assessment and post-spill impact assessment.
“The National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency through the Federal Ministry of Environment will keep the public informed of future developments on the spill incident with an effort to contain the further spread and limit the effect on the environment” the statement reads in parts.