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NAOC blames delayed response to Taylor Creek oilfield leaks on security concerns

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• ‘Community pressurised company to act through NOSDRA, others’
The Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) has explained that the delay in the Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) and fixing of vandalised pipelines at its Taylor Creek oilfields in May 2020 was due to security concerns and not negligence.

In a statement, Eni, the Italian parent company of NAOC, disclosed that it responded within 24 hours after vandals tampered with pipeline at the Taylor Creek oilfields in August 2019 and shut the facility to arrest further degradation of the environment.

The explanation followed outcry that the oil firm shirked its responsibility of operating in an environmentally sustainable manner by leaving the site without remediation for close to one year.

It was earlier reported that NAOC had plugged the leaks on its ruptured pipeline at the Taylor Creek fields in Kalaba Community, Yenagoa Council Area of Bayelsa about one year after the facility witnessed a spill.

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Residents of the area said the damaged point on the pipeline continued to spew crude oil and gas into the community’s environment since July 30, 2019, when vandals blew up the line.

Director General of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Idris Musa, said findings by personnel deployed on a JIV indicated that the vandals used explosives to destroy the pipeline, just as Eni lamented that vandalism was an obstacle to the smooth operations as it caused incalculable damage to the environment.

“The spill was caused on a minor well flow line by a third party interference, more specifically a blast by an explosive device on August 3, 2019. Within 24 hours of the incident, the facility, flow line and well were shut in and have remained closed since then, “the statement added.

It explained that it was only after a long engagement with the community that the investigating team was able to visit the area on May 31, 2020, adding, “NAOC restates that third party interferences resulted in losses for the company and significant damage to the environment and the communities.

“This is why NAOC developed an integrated strategy to prevent, reduce, contain and remediate the events and their impact, and will spare no effort to ensure asset and production integrity.”

But members of the community attributed the delay to NAOC’s nonchalant attitude, which compelled them to seek regulators’ intervention.

Chairman of Kalaba Community Development Committee (CDC), Samuel Oburo, said NAOC mobilised to site toward the end of May, but that it had remained adamant, insisting that its belated response followed intense pressures from the community.

He added that the community pressurised NAOC through petitions to NOSDRA, the Bayelsa Ministry of Environment and advocacy by the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN).

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