By Godson Elekwachi FRCN Abuja
As a proactive measure to address recent oil spillage at Santa Barbara in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, the Federal Government has directed AITEO Eastern Exploration and Production Company Limited (AEEPCo) to halt operations in the area until proper investigation is conducted.
The government has also alluded to the need to put adequate measures in place to ensure the safety of lives and property in the affected area.
The oil spill occurred early this month within the proximity of Opu Nembe Community.
Upon receipt of the report of the incident, the federal government set up a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) comprising the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regualtory Commission (NUPRC), Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment, Community representatives and Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company.
Its mandate was to, as a matter of immediacy, address the situation towards reducing the hydrocarbon fumes that saturated the atmosphere in the area.
Although earlier efforts to shut the well proved difficult due to inaccessibility, the authorities however felt the imperative to safeguard the environment and livelihood of the inhabitants of the area by deploying staff of NOSDRA’s Yenagoa Field Office to the site, in order to conduct monitoring and take other critical measures.
In this vein, 3,000 barrels of emulsified crude oil have been recovered and held in a recovery barge, while additional booms are being deployed by the Clean Nigeria Associates, a Tier II response System to work with the on-site recovery contractor.
Further efforts have yielded result as containment and recovery within the leak area have been reinforced as of November 15.
Based on JIT reports, a well control company (Kenyon International) was at the location of the incident for an on-site assessment.
Meanwhile, containment and recovery is ongoing.
However, in order to ensure safety and guaranty future operations in the affected area by AEEPCo, NOSDRA has mandated the company to carry out concrete actions to address the situation, which include clean-up of impacted areas, remediation of spill site as well as damage assessment and post spill impact assessment.