Rev. Nnimmo Bassey, an Environmental activist, has condemned the slow response of the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) to the Feb. 3 oil leakage at its oilfields in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
The pipeline explosion on a line feeding the oil export facility discharged crude into the environment and compelled the firm to shut down the line amidst concerns by oil industry observers on oil output shortfalls.
The facility, according to Eni, the Italian parent company of NAOC has capacity to handle exports of 90,000 barrels of crude per day.
Bassey told newsmen that the statement issued by NAOC’s parent company, Eni was insensitive to the impact of the leak.
He said that it was regrettable that the operator of the oilfield had neglected its obligations of operating in an environmentally sustainable manner and merely stated that the incident had no significant impact on its oil output.
He noted that no mention was made of efforts to remediate the pollution caused by the incident on the environment and residents who depend on the environment.
“The response to this incident underscores the lack of care about environmental impacts of continuous oil spills in our communities.
“As in previous cases, the concern of the oil company is about profit, about how to keep the oil flowing, about how to continue exploiting without any sense of responsibility.
“This is both shameful and unacceptable, where are the regulators of the oil and gas sector? They should wake up from their slumber.
“At a time when the entire Niger Delta should be remediated, we are seeing the regulators, NOSDRA or even the DPR keeping mum and leaving the security agencies to be speaking on the incident reported since early February.
“Did they arrest any official of Eni? Is the security agencies deployed to protect facilities equipped to undertake role they have taken upon themselves?
“Explosions can happen due to operational or equipment failure. The approach we see here is another layer in the oppression of the poor communities and the worrisome discounting of impacts on the environment and human lives,” Bassey said.
Meanwhile, National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) said security concerns was delaying probe to the cause of a leak earlier reported at the Brass Oil Terminal off Bayelsa coastline.
Mr Idris Musa, the Director-General of NOSDRA had told newsmen on Monday that the agency was in receipt of the report of the spill but was looking at the security concerns which triggered violent protests in Bayelsa.
The Police on Feb. 14 imposed dusk to dawn curfew till Feb. 23 in Bayelsa following violent protests by some residents against the Supreme Court judgment that sacked the erstwhile governor-elect.
Musa said that the spill agency was not aware of an explosion as the report before it was that of a leak, adding that the agency was concerned about safety before an investigative visit to the site.
It will be recalled that two regulatory officials, each from NOSDRA and Bayelsa Ministry of Environment died following a blast at an oilfield operated by NAOC at Azuzuam in Bayelsa in July 2015.
He assured that the mandatory Joint Investigative Visit (JIV) with representatives of the community, oil firm and Bayelsa Ministry of Environment to ascertain the cause and volume of the spill would be convened as soon as it was safe to do so.
“There was no explosion on the pipeline but spill. The cause is being investigated. Indeed there were three different points.
“The security situation in the state in being considered for a safe investigation,” the D-G told newsmen.
In a response to an e-mail request for comments by newsmen, Eni through a senior staff, who preferred anonymity, said the company had shut the line to effect repairs.
The oil firm said that the incident had no substantial impact on the 90,000 barrels per day crude export terminal.
“The line is an intra-field one in a minor field therefore impact on production is minimal. The flow on the line has been immediately halted and preparations for repair are underway and Brass export line is active,” Eni stated.