The federal government has directed Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company (AEEPCO) to stop operation in affected oilfield spewing oil in Bayelsa State pending investigation.
Saghir El-Mohammed, press director, ministry of environment, said this in a statement made available to pressmen on Tuesday.
“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,” the statement reads.
“Also, adequate measures will be put in place to ensure the safety of lives and property in the area.”
Delineating the steps that the government investigation team and Aiteo had taken to cushion the effect of the oil spillage at Santa Barbara, he added that there will be further curtailment measures to ensure that the leak was adequately managed.
“It can be 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, wellhead located at the southern field of Santa Barbara,” El-Mohammed added.
“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 November 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 (wellhead) for appropriate oil spill response.”
He said that AEEPCO responded by deploying booms and skimmers to contain the spill crude oil from spreading but the hydrocarbon company could not shut the wellhead.
“As at November 10, 2021, efforts to shut the well have proven difficult due to inaccessibility,” the press director said.
“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 report on the measures being taken to address the issue.
“There are 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.”
He said that more booms were deployed by the Clean Nigeria Association (CNA) system to aid the on-site recovery contractor.
“Further effort yielded result as containment and recovery within the leak area have been reinforced by November 15,” he added.
El-Mohammed stated further that the CNA had mobilised to the site for intensified containment and recovery.
He also said that Boot and Coots, a company mobilised for well control and securing and AEEPCO had obtained temporary work permits for expatriates expected in the country for the activity.
Based on JIT reports, he said that a control company named 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 killing the well,” El-Mohammed added.
“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 the further spread and limit the effect on the environment.”