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CSO flays oil firms’ claim of sabotage in Bayelsa, Delta spills

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Spaces for Change (S4C) has condemned reported oil spillages at Shell Petroleum Development Company’s (SPDC) facility in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State and Chevron flow station in Warri South-West Council of Delta State.

Its Executive Director, Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri, who accused the oil companies of using alleged sabotage to avoid taking reponsibility for the spills, urged government and other stakeholders to disallow the oil majors from evading liability under the guise of sabotage.

She said the recent spillages that affected over 15 communities in Delta resulted in thick crude oil slick flowing at a high speed and spreading to neighbouring communities.

“Locals are living in constant fear of a fire outbreak, in addition to other devastating effects of the spillages on their communities. The Joint Investigating Team comprising SPDC officials, National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), security agencies, Bayelsa State Government and community representatives, eventually visited the SPDC facility in the Agbura-Otuokpoti community and were able to contain the spillages to prevent further spread,” she said.

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“However, while the investigation was ongoing to determine the cause and impact of the spillages, SPDC announced that there was an anonymous note found at the spill site, thereby suggesting sabotage. Out of the 23 oil spillages reported by SPDC from January to March 2021 across the Niger Delta region, 20 of them were attributed to sabotage, while only three were reportedly caused by operational failures,” the group said.

It added that attributing the spillages to sabotage had become a major tactic oil companies use to evade culpability when oil spillages occur in their host communities.

S4C also challenged the Federal Government and the oil companies in the region to ensure that the spill sites were remediated immediately without further delay and to provide relief materials to the affected communities.

“Oil majors must be mandated to deploy safety measures to mitigate the effects of spillages on the communities. Accordingly, affected communities must be provided with emergency relief materials as a matter of urgency.

“The Federal Government must take further steps to ensure that investigations of spillages are open, fair and without undue interference from oil companies,” it added.

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