After successfully stopping further spill of crude oil into the environment, the operator of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, Aiteo Eastern E&P Co. Ltd., says the joint venture is set to move into the final phase of remediation of the environment.
AITEO Global Group Director/Coordinator, Asset Protection/Security Services and Community Matters, Andrew Oru, disclosed on Tuesday when the Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, and Director General of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Idris Musa, visited the Santa Barbra Well 01 spill site in Bayelsa State.
Oru said all plans have been completed to kickstart the execution of the final phase of the remediation process any moment.
He said the remediation phase would be handled by NOSDRA, in collaboration with AITEO, the operator of the NNPC/AITEO JV.
The remediation exercise, he explained, would involve the mopping up of all the remnant crude oil slippages that managed to escape through the well positioned protection barriers known as booms.
He said regulatory authorities on ground zero supervising the cleaning of spill from the immediate cordoned off area ascertained that about 16,000 barrels of oil mixed with water have so far been recovered from the spill site.
After the tour of the impacted site at the end of the inspection visit, the Minister and the DG NOSDRA commended AITEO and JV partner, the NNPC, for the timely remediation efforts, to prevent further damage to the environment as well as taking the leadership to send palliatives to the impacted communities.
She also gave NOSDRA kudos for the swift response at the outbreak of the spill, by mobilising available resources to help stop the spill.
On the magnitude of impact of the spill she witnessed during the spot assessment of the site, the Minister said it would be difficult to put figures to the assessment immediate, since ’’any environmental impact is always heart-wrenching.”
“What I saw on the ground was not as much as what was portrayed in media reports about what actually happened.
“Luckily, AITEO, NOSDRA and nother agencies involved responded quickly. So, most of the oil that was spilling from that well-head was contained almost immediately with the booms deployed to the impacted area.
“We travelled over the waters. I didn’t see that much crude oil floating. It shows AITEO and its partners have been able to recover some, I think, 16,000 barrels so far.’’
On the local refineries operating in the area, the Minister said in as much as she would support their operations in the region, she said that has to be done in an environmentally-friendly manner to decommission them.
“So, I have come to see for myself the situation on the spill site. We’re waiting for the report of the JIV, then we would start clean up and remediation measures.
On what could be done to avert a recurrence, the Minister said, “responsibility lies on both the oil companies and the host communities, to take care of the environment and oil facilities as well as their equipment.
Like I said, we will wait for the Joint Investigarion Visit V, so we know exactly, what the cause of this was.Then we can make a categorical statement that we must all protect the environment. I am happy to see a lot of mangroves that are still thriving in the Niger Delta and we must keep it that way.”
The Minister used the visit to the announce Wednesday, December 23, 2021 as the new date for the Joint Investigative Visit to the spill site.
The Joint Investigative visit team would comprise all stakeholders.