29 December 2011, Sweetcrude, ABUJA – Nigeria’s Senate Committee on Environment has directed the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the Nigerian Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) to evalute the oil curently ravaging the Nigerian shoreline with a view to unravelling the source.
Members of the committee saw the oil while on an overfly of Shell’s Bonga facility which spilled about 40,000 barrels into the Atlantic Ocean last week.
Addressing the press after the Bonga visit, Committee Chairman, Senator Bukola Saraki, said the directive has become necessary to determine whether the oil on the shoreline was from Bonga or a third party, as claimed by Shell.
The agencies are expected to take a sample of the oil on the coastline to determine which facility was liable for the spill.
Saraki said of the committee’s visit to Bonga: “We were able to fly over the area and it was clear that a lot of work has been done by Shell to clean up most of the spill that has occurred. Shell has been effective in response to containing the incident.
“We also had the opportunity to look at some of the satellite images that supported how the event started since December 21. Shell officials also explained to us what led to the spill, how one of the three lines that supply crude to the export tankers gave up. Why the line gave up is still being investigated but definitely Shell exhibited corporate responsibility by shutting all operations and production immediately the incident occurred.
“We also flew across to Forcados where there was clearly some oil at the shoreline but at the moment it is not clear if it was coming from a third party facility or from Bonga. NOSDRA and DPR have been told to go and carry out examination of the oil to determine where the oil came from.
“The committee also appealed to the communities there to co-operate to quicken the clean up of the shoreline. Frankly, what we saw is human resources equipment pooled together to address the incident. But going forward, until the cause of the spill is determined; it will be difficult to decide what to do.”
The committee said it also wants NOSDRA and government to have independent spill clean-up organisations, stressing that it was possible for Shell to quickly respond to the spill because it is a big and responsible company.
Apart from the Shell spill, Saraki noted that the committee has gone through the Niger Delta and discovered there are issues and there is urgent need to address them. He said oil companies including the indigenous firms, should be directed to get prepared to tackle emergencies, such as the Bonga incident to protect the country and the environment.
Other members of the committee at the event were Prof. Ben Ayade; Vice Chairman, Senator Gbenga Ashafa and Senator Bolu Kunlere as well as Secretary of the committee, Vibi Njamanze.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has raised an alarm over the oil spillage from the Bonga facility, which is rated the worst to hit the country since 1998.
The Bonga facility is located about 120 kilometres off Nigeria’s coast and produces 200,000 barrel of oil per day.
The slick from the Shell facility was said to have affected over 115 miles of ocean near the nation’s coast and putting at risk fish, birds, vegetation and other marine resources in the areas.