Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Nembe oil spill special: Aiteo Director Oru

Aiteo director Andrew Oru explained that the burst was not just an oil spill but a gas blowout which is being contained.

• December 3, 2021
Aiteo/oil spill
Aiteo/oil spill used to illustrate the story

The oil spillage that has vastly contaminated the environment and waterbody in Nembe, Bayelsa state has been described as “special”, by Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company (AEEPCO), operators of the leaking oil facility.

“This spill is a special type. It’s not just an oil spill, it’s a gas blowout, for whatever reason,” Aiteo’s Global Group Director/Coordinator, Andrew Oru, said during a tour of the facility with reporters on Thursday. “There are two stages in containing it. The first one is to stop the gas leakage while the second is to fill the well.”

Mr Oru, however, maintained that the spillage, which involved 80 per cent gas and 20 per cent oil, had been contained substantially. He said the affected areas are being pumped with chemicals to contain further leakage in “one or two days”.

The Oil Mining Lease 29 Wellhead in Santa Barbara South Field, Nembe, which AEEPCO jointly owns with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, blew up on November 3, and has caused great damage to the area.

He described as “spurious” claims that the leak spilled two million barrels of oil into the creeks, explaining that the well’s production capacity, including its total reserves, was nowhere near two million barrels.

“The talk of two million barrels of oil spilling from the well is spurious. Two million barrels is about two supertankers. The oil would have spread over the entire country.

“The reserve of the well itself is nowhere near two million barrels.”

Mr Oru assured the people of Nembe community that everything was being done to prevent humanitarian or ecological disaster.

“I can tell you authoritatively that the pressure of the well has been substantially diminished already because all the chemicals needed to put the pressure under control are being fed in continuously and the pressure has started going down.

“It is the gas leakage that engenders and creates room for some droplets of oil to escape with gas.

“The well is a gas well, 80 per cent gas and about 20 per cent oil; that is why it is relatively easy for us to contain the amount of oil that spills out.

“Ordinarily, if what is coming out now were oil, I can imagine that we will be needing Noah’s Ark by now.”

He noted that the heavy vegetation of the area by which oxygen was emitted in large quantities and which flowed freely as well had also helped to absorb gaseous emissions.

“Critically, the pressure of the gas that is coming out has been almost completely extinguished and in one or two days maximum, I believe we will proceed further to begin the well-kill process,” Mr Oru added.

Meanwhile, the company has donated five truckloads of palliatives, including food and medical supplies to the Nembe community.

The items, received by the community’s leaders, were stored in the Opu Nembe Town Hall for onward distribution to fishing communities directly affected by the spill.

The Chairman of Opu-Nembe Council of Chiefs, Ori Ekpeleyai-Oruwari, who spoke on behalf of the Nembe monarch, expressed his delight for the donations.

Mr Ekpeleyai-Oruwari while speaking on behalf of the Amanayanbo of Opu-Nembe Kingdom, said he received the relief materials for the wellbeing of the community’s residents for the second time.

“For those who are directly impacted in the oil spill from OML 29 at Santa Barbara we are indeed very grateful to Aiteo for bringing this relief materials to us,” he said.


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