The Federal Government on Tuesday directed AITEO Eastern Exploration and Production Company Ltd. (AEEPCo), to stop the operation of an oilfield in Bayelsa State.
A statement by Mr Saghir el Mohammed, Press Director, Ministry of Environment, said this in Abuja, indicating that the government has ordered that the company should not operate in the area until a proper investigation is carried out and adequate measures put in place to ensure safety of lives and property.
According to him, this is a proactive measure 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.
“Also, adequate measures will as well put in place to ensure the safety of lives and property in the area.
“It can be recalled that the spill occurred on Nov. 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.
“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), was set up.
“Also, the state Ministry of Environment, Community representatives and Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company was set up on Nov. 6, 2021 to immediately address the situation.
“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 down in the impacted asset (well head) for appropriate oil spilI response.
Accordingly, AEEPCo deployed booms and skimmers to contain the spill crude oil from spreading.
“As at Nov. 10, 2021, efforts to shut the well has proven difficult due to inaccessibility.
“Meanwhile, in an effort to safeguard the environment and livelihood, staff from the NOSDRA’s Yenagoa Field Office were deployed to the site to monitor and give a progress reports on the measures being taken to address the issue.
“There is further directives to AEEPCo to engage all relevant stakeholders in the spilled oil recovery process.
“In this vein, 3,000 barrels of emulsified crude oil have been recovered and held in a recovery barge.
Also, additional booms were deployed by the Clean Nigeria Association (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 Nov. 15,” he said.
Mohammed said that the CNA has mobilised to site for enhanced containment and recovery.
He added that boot and coots, mobilised for well control and securing and AEEPCo has secured temporary work permit for expatriates expected in the country for the activity.
According to him, 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 on-going. It is instructive to note that the wellhead experts have arrived Nigeria and will commence work on killing the well.
“However, in order to ensure safety and guarantee future operations in the area by AEEPCo, NOSDRA has mandated the company to carry out concrete actions.
“The action is to address the situation that includes clean-up of impacted areas, remediation of spill site as well as damage assessment and post-spill impact assessment.
“NOSDRA, through the Federal Ministry of Environment, will keep the public informed on future developments on the spill incident with an effort to contain further spread and limit the effect on the environment.