Environmentalist berates Agip over Brass oil leak

Environmental rights crusader, Reverend Nnimmo Bassey, has condemned the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) over its slow response to the February 3rd, 2020, oil leak at its oilfields in Brass Island in Bayelsa State.

The explosion on a line feeding the oil export facility discharged crude into the environment and compelled the firm to shut down the line amidst concerns by oil industry observers on oil output shortfalls.

The facility, according to Eni, the Italian parent company of NAOC, has capacity to handle exports of 90,000 barrels of crude per day.

Bassey said that the statement issued by NAOC’s parent company was insensitive to the impact of the leak.

He said it was regrettable that the operator of the oilfield  neglected its obligations of operating in an environmentally sustainable manner and merely stated that the incident had no significant impact on its oil output.

“The response to this incident underscores the lack of care about environmental impacts of continuous oil spills in our communities.

“As in previous cases, the concern of the oil company is about profit, about how to keep the oil flowing, about how to continue exploiting without any sense of responsibility.

“This is both shameful and unacceptable, where are the regulators of the oil and gas sector? They should wake up from slumber.

“At a time when the entire Niger Delta should be remediated, we are seeing the regulators National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) or even the DPR keeping mum and leaving the security agencies to speak on the incident reported since early February.

“Did they arrest any official of Eni? Are security agencies deployed to protect facilities equipped to undertake the role they have taken for themselves?

“Explosions can happen due to operational or equipment failure. The approach we see here is another layer in the oppression of poor communities and the worrisome discounting of impacts on the environment and human lives,” Bassey said.

Meanwhile, NOSDRA has said that security concerns was delaying the probe of the cause of a leak earlier reported at the Brass Oil Terminal off Bayelsa coastline.

Mr Idris Musa, Director-General of NOSDRA, had said last Monday that the agency  had received the report of the spill but was considering at the security concerns which triggered violent protests in the state.

The Police on February 14 imposed dusk to dawn curfew till February 23 in the state following violent protests by some residentsover the Supreme Court judgment that sacked the erstwhile governor-elect.

Musa said that the spill agency was not aware of an explosion as the report before it was that of a leak.

He assured that the mandatory Joint Investigative Visit (JIV) with representatives of the community, oil firm and Bayelsa Ministry of Environment to ascertain the cause and volume of the spill would be convened as soon as it is safe to do so.

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