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Crude oil fire raises tension in Bayelsa community

By Julius Osahon, Yenagoa
11 November 2021   |   2:12 am
Fresh massive crude oil fire caused by a massive crude oil spill from the wellhead of Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company in its Santa Barbara South Field is currently ravaging Opu-Nembe community in Bayelsa State.


Fresh massive crude oil fire caused by a massive crude oil spill from the wellhead of Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company in its Santa Barbara South Field is currently ravaging Opu-Nembe community in Bayelsa State.

The fire, which is still raging from the wellhead, according to community sources, has left many of the people in fear as many had fled their community.

A community source, who spoke in confidence, said the wellhead from Well One of the oil exploration company has been discharging serious hydrocarbon into the environment before it caught fire yesterday night.

He said, “The people of Opu-Nembe need serious environmental and medical attention. You can see there is a boom line but the boom line set up by Aiteo cannot put off the fire, it has gone to the highest level of hazard.”

Confirming the fire and spill incident, Aiteo, operator of the NNPC/Aiteo Joint Venture on OML 29 on Friday, reported that an oil spill from a non-producing well head in its Santa Barbara South field, has caught fire.
 
A statement signed by Ndiana Mathew, head of its Media team, said the magnitude of the incident is of an extremely high order. 

“Neither the cause of the spill, nor the quantity of leaked hydrocarbon could be determined at the time of the discovery, though containment booms were deployed and recovery commenced immediately around the well head.  

“As an incident of this nature imports, the necessary Oil Spill Notification Report have been promptly communicated to National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) and National Petroleum Investment Services (NAPIMS) as is required by regulation.

“Ultimately, a Joint Investigative Visit (JIV) to the spill site was held by all relevant stakeholders, community inclusive. The JIV, at the time, was inconclusive, owing to difficulties with access due to high pressure of hydrocarbons from the wellhead. 

“Additionally, immediate efforts to control the leak were aborted due to the high pressure emanating from the well head.  Consequently, Aiteo has mobilised a full intervention team with well control specialists and equipment both locally and internationally to arrest the leak.
 
“The JIV team commended Aiteo for its prompt emergency response and handling of the incident. Further investigations on the cause of the mishap are being undertaken and will be progressed after the well has been shut in”, the statement added. Ndiana also added that preliminary indications suggest that crude oil theft leaks and sabotage cannot be ruled out.