NOSDRA, environmentalists decry oil spill in Conoil facility in Bayelsa —MD

The National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) and  environmentalists have expressed concern over the environmental impact of Conoil Producing Limited’s operations in Bayelsa State.

The concern were raised over the firm’s insensitivity to the sustenance of the environment where it operated, and its continued failure to appropriately respond to an undersea leak in its oilfield pipeline in the state, since September 3, 2020.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalled that NOSDRA Director General, Idris Musa had confirmed the incident on December 2, 2020 and berated the company for operating in breach of regulatory guidelines.

On Tuesday, Musa told NAN in Yenogoa that the oil firm had the habit of causing avoidable spills and had previously been sanctioned for degrading the environment.

“This oil company has been spilling oil for a period of time now,  from our findings, it is from an underwater pipeline under pressure creating bubbles on the water surface.

“All directives given to it to contain the oil spill, shut down and replace the leaking pipeline, near shore in Sangana,  Bayelsa, fell on deaf ears.

“The agency sanctioned the company for this untoward act, but nothing has changed. The leakage continues and the oil company behaves irresponsibly even though it is a Nigerian oil firm,” Musa said.

The leak emanated from Conoils’s  facility known as ‘Aunty Julie platform’ within Oil Mining Lease 59, at Otuo  Oilfield, NAN learnt.

According to information on the company’s website, the  facility,  a mobile offshore  production unit inaugurated in 1999, has capacity to produce 80,000 barrels of crude daily.

Meanwhile, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria  (ERA/FoEN) said it was disturbed by the unsafe environmental practices at an offshore oilfield operated by Conoil.

In  a report on the issue,  signed by Mr Alagoa Morris, Head, ERA/FoEN Niger Delta Resource Centre , Yenagoa, Bayelsa, the group said the posture of Conoil, despite regulatory sanctions, left  much to be desired as the adverse impact of the operation was borne by host-communities.

ERA/FoEN lamented the failure of Conoil Plc to respond to the oil spill from its facility, which had affected several communities near the oil facility in Akassa  Kingdom, and in  the Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, for four months since the incident was revealed.

The incident occurred at the indigenous oil firm’s Otuo Field Well 13 on September 3, 2020, according to the ERA/FoEN report which indicated that the leak was yet to be plugged as spilled crude continued spreading and polluting Akassa and coastal communities on the Atlantic shoreline.

The report quoted the Chairman, United Fishing Union of Sangana, Ikonikumo Noel, as lamenting that the spill had wiped out generations of fishes, as well as adversely affected  aquatic life that constituted the region’s food chain.

The environmental rights group also quoted the Akassa Clan Youth Presidents’ Forum to have, in a letter dated September 18, 2020,  reported the incident to the office of the Commissioner for Environment, but no action had been taken.

All efforts to get the reaction of the oil firm by e-mail, short  message services and  telephone calls to officials of the oil firm have remained unanswered.

 

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