The Bayelsa government on Friday said it was not satisfied with the inability of Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company to plug ongoing leaks at its field in Nembe, two weeks after the incident.
The government reaction was contained in a statement issued by Mt Ayibaina Duba, Bayelsa Commissioner for Information, Orientation and Strategy, issued in Yenagoa 14 days after the November 5 incident.
The statement quoted Gov Douye Diri as expressing displeasure with Aiteo for its failure to curtail the oil spill at Santa Barbra Well 1 at Oil Mining Lease (OML) 29 two weeks after the leak started.
According to the statement, the State Governor was disappointed that the operator of the oil asset has neglected to take any concrete step since the November 5, 2021 equipment failure was reported to it.
“Governor Douye Diri wondered why the massive spill has continued unabated, leading to extensive pollution of the rivers, waterways and farmlands in Nembe Local Government Area, even when the company management is aware of the situation.
“Governor Douye Diri is gravely concerned that if the high volume of crude being spill continuously is not stopped immediately, it will spread to many more communities and undermine the economic life of residents who are predominantly farmers and fishermen.
“The Governor is particularly disappointed that the management of Aiteo has continued to play the Ostrich and is yet to shot-in its failed facilities,” Duba stated.
The governor was also quoted to have warned that: “Aiteo should not assume that this criminal neglect of its facilities and disregard for human life and the environment, as demonstrated by its conduct, will not be accounted for.”
Diri, according to the statement, asked the oil firm to be prepared for the consequences of its failure, because the government will not stand by and watch Aiteo put human and aquatic lives and the environment in jeopardy.
The governor was said to have advised residents to be law abiding and remain peaceful, assuring them of government’s commitment to their wellbeing at all times.
Officials of National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) deployed to the spill site to ascertain the cause of the leak reported that the intensity of the pressure and magnitude of the leak was hampering investigations.
Mr Idris Musa, Director-General and Chief Executive Officer of NOSDRA had said that the spill agency had directed the operator of the facility to plug the leak for investigations to commence.
Musa also said that other oil firms in the country under the auspices of Clean Nigeria Associates have been drafted to join Aiteo in recovery of spilled crude.
However, residents along the area have expressed worry over their safety as the gaseous discharge have gone unabated for 14 days with no respite in sight.
Nimibofa Degi, a community leader in Opu-Nembe who spoke in a telephone interview said the people in the impacted arrears were worried over the air quality in the area and alleged that they were having respiratory challenges.
He noted that the ill-fated well is a gas well with 80 per cent of gas and 20 per cent of crude reserves and hence, the people faced greater risks from gas pollution.
He called for air quality tests to be conducted urgently in the impacted area to establish if the area was suitable under the present circumstances.