We didn’t hinder NOSDRA from probing explosion site, says Aiteo
An oil company, Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company (AEEPCo), has said that it did not stop National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) from investigating the fire incident at its oil well in Nembe, Bayelsa State on March 1, 2019.
On March 2, 2019, several national and international media outlets had erroneously reported that scores of people were missing after an explosion occurred along the Nembe Creek Trunk Line (NCTL), the major crude oil pipeline traversing the Nembe area. Aiteo is the operator of the NCTL as well as the Oil Mining Lease (OML) 29.
Further details on the incident from the affected area as well as statements from Aiteo and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) have cleared that it was not a pipeline explosion but a fire at a nearby oil well. Also, Aiteo stated that there was no casualty from the incident. This was corroborated by community people who later confirmed that there were no missing individuals.
Also, fresh documents, referenced AEEPCo/PRD/2019/05 and signed by its Chief Operating Officer, Emmanuel Ukegbu, which was made available to newsmen, indicate that Aiteo had contacted the relevant agencies, including NOSDRA on the matter within 24 hours as stipulated by law.
However, on Monday, NOSDRA had accused Aiteo of frustrating efforts to investigate the incident. Head of NOSDRA’s Field Office in Bayelsa State, Mr. Francis Umeh, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Yenagoa that the stance of the oil firm was slowing NOSDRA from promptly carrying out its mandate.
The NOSDRA field office boss also said that Aiteo did not report the incidence within 24 hours of occurrence as stipulated by law.
“The incident occurred on Friday and it took them some time to report it officially to NOSDRA; we have plans to visit the site, but the operator is resisting and frustrating our efforts,” Umeh said.
But a source at the company, that pleaded anonymity, said: ‘’The comments of Mr. Francis Umeh, Head of NOSDRA’s Field Office in Bayelsa are the last four days. How can Aiteo deny access to a government agency on an asset that is primarily owned by the government? It is inappropriate for the agency to assert that we are resisting investigations when we informed the commission about the incident the day it occurred and have not precluded them from gaining access to the site. The incidence report was submitted to NOSDRA and DPR and as soon as we got a clear sense of how things played out.’’
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