Gas rig fire: Alison-Madueke commits to rapid response

17 February 2012, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, has pledged the commitment of the Federal Government to provide lasting solution to the incidence of environmental pollution caused by the exploration and production of oil and gas especially in the Niger Delta region of the country.

Speaking during an assessment tour of some communities believed to have been impacted by the recent gas fire at the Chevron Nigeria operated KS Endeavour drilling rig, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke stated the readiness of the Petroleum Ministry to galvanise the International Oil Companies, IOCs, as well as the host communities to ensure that the operating environment is made safe for all concerned in line with international best practice.

Last month there was a fire outbreak after an explosion from a new gas well head at Funawa 5 gas platform along the Kolu-Ama River in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State on the Drilling Rig KS located in shallow water approximately 10 km off the coast of Nigeria.

The resultant gas fire which has since diminished to a marginal level brought to the fore the perennial challenge of environmental pollution and degradation in the oil bearing region.

At the end of the evaluation exercise which saw the Petroleum Minister undertake aerial survey of the eight host communities spread across Southern Ijaw and Brass Local Government Areas (Koluama 1, Koluma 11, Ekeni, Foropa, Fishtown, Ezetu 1, Ezetu 11 and Sanga, Mrs. Alison-Madueke assured the community that the President is determined to bring the suffering of oil producing areas to an end.

“We have done the aerial survey, we have seen, and also heard from the community leaders and youths, the next thing is to report back to the President and within the next one week to provide response to the community leaders,” Mrs. Alison-Madueke stated.

Responding on behalf of the community, His Royal Highness, Mienye Newton, the Ama-nana-wei of Kolu-Ama 11, pledged the readiness of the entire clan to work with the Petroleum Ministry as well as the IOCs to ensure clean environment and the much needed development of the area.

Echoing the same sentiment, HRH Jeremiah Lechemo, the Ama-nana-wei of Kolu-Ama 1 applauded Mrs. Alison-Madueke for being the first as well as the highest Federal Government official to visit what is known as the Keffes communities made up of the eight oil and gas bearing communities under the Chevron operating area in Bayelsa state.

“The visit by the Minister has made us to forget about the pain we are going through, though the pinch is still there but this is the first time we are feeling federal government’s presence in our midst,” the Monarch stated.

Christopher Tuodo, Chairman of the Keffes Rural Development Foundation also spoke thus: “Today is unique in the history of the people of Keffes, unique in the sense that this is the first time a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Managing Director of Chevron Nigeria, CNL, are personally visiting our community,” he stated.

Tuodo called on the Minister to fastrack the supply of relief materials to the people as well as provide urgent medical assessment team to undertake a comprehensive appraisal of the situation.

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