Nembe oil spill: Leaking wellhead to be contained ‘in days’

THE OML 29 Wellhead in the Santa Barbara South field in Nembe, Bayelsa State which blew up on November 3, 2021 is being pumped with chemicals that will contain further leakage in “one or two days.” 

Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company (AEEPCO) which jointly owns the well with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), said Thursday that the spill had already been substantially diminished. 

The firm’s Global Group Director/Coordinator, Andrew Oru, said the spill was of a special type – a gas blowout – which involved 80 per cent gas and 20 per cent oil. 

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. 

Oru spoke in Opu-Nembe in Nembe Local Government Area (LGA) after taking journalists on a tour of the ground zero. 

“The talk of two million barrels of oil spilling from the well is spurious. Two million barrels is about two super tankers; the oil would have spread over the entire country. The reserve of the well itself is nowhere near two million barrels,” he said. 

He assured the community that the all was being done to prevent any humanitarian or ecological disaster. 

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

“This spill is a special type. It’s not just an oil spill, it’s a gas blowout, for whatever reason. There are two stages in containing it. The first one is to stop the gas leakage. The second is to fill the well. 

“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’ll be needing Noah’s Ark by now.” 

He noted that the heavy vegetation of the area had also help to absorb the spill. “But critically speaking, 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 began the well kill process,” Oru said. 

The company also donated five truckloads of palliative, including food and medical supplies, to the Nembe Kingdom.

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