Port Harcourt — The Bayelsa State Government has faulted claims that the Nov 5th oil spill at OML29 operated by Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company in Nembe, was caused by sabotage.
Recall that industry regulators investigating the incident last Wednesday attributed the spill to sabotage, while the Bayelsa State Government claimed the spill was due to equipment failure, making the JIV inconclusive.
The regulators are the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency, and the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commision.
Speaking, the Technical Committee set up by the Bayelsa State Government over the Nembe spill incident, dismissed the claim and faulted the procedures adopted in arriving at the conclusions
Chairman of the Committee, Mr Biriyai Dambo, SAN, disclosed that the components and accessories of the wellhead, that were to be inspected, had been removed and replaced, which amounted to tampering with and concealing the equipment and evidence.
Dambo, who is also the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Bayelsa, accused NUPRC and NOSDRA of bias and not being neutral, saying that the state government has adequate evidence to expose the regulators’ bias.
He explained that there have been similar incidents of oil spillage, although of lesser magnitude, from the same Santa Barbara Wellhead 1 in OML29 in 2018 and 2019, which Aiteo had previously admitted.
The committee regretted that till date, there has been no remediation nor safeguards against future recurrence put in place or enforced by Aiteo and NOSDRA respectively over the said spills.
According to him, requests for remediation of the earlier spills by the affected communities were rebuffed, until this major blowout happened in November 2021.
“We were shocked to note that on the day of this latest JIV, when asked about these previous incidents at the exact same wellhead, AITEO denied and NOSDRA kept silent.
“During the course of the JIV, the behaviour and utterances of representatives of NOSDRA and NUPRC called into question their independence and neutrality.
“We are convinced that NOSDRA and NUPRC are biased and are playing a script in cahoots and concert with AITEO.
“We have very convincing evidence which we will bring to light at the appropriate time and through the appropriate fora that NOSDRA and NUPRC are completely biased.
“They have taken a premeditated position in favour of Aiteo against the interest of the people of Bayelsa State and the Niger Delta.
“This is terribly sad, and unfortunate given the fact that NOSDRA and NUPRC are supposed to be regulators and as such should be unbiased and act at all times with integrity.
“Finally, the Government of Bayelsa State completely rejects the JIV of Wednesday, December 22, 2021.
Dambo maintained that the position of Bayelsa government that the cause of the spill is equipment failure and shall take all appropriate steps to pursue environmental justice for itself and affected communities.
He explained that such redress will put an end to the perennial pollution of the environment through reckless and irresponsible oilfield practice that is condoned by a weak or compromised regulatory system.