…Fishermen rendered jobless
Port Harcourt — The Sangana community in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State is currently suffering the impact of massive, uncontrollable gas leaks from an offshore rig in Otuo field in Oil Mining Lease, OML, 59 operated by Conoil Producing Nigeria Limited.
Fishermen and women in the area said they have been rendered jobless and sacked from the community due to the gas leaks.
The gas leaks, which began on Sunday 31st October 2021, are, till moment, still spewing from the Adriatic I offshore rig, operated by Shelf Drilling Nig. Ltd. for Conoil Producing Nigeria Limited.
Lamenting the predicament of the people, the Chairman, United Fishing Union of Sangana, Mr. Noel Ikonikumo, said dead floating fishes are now littering the sea and fishing activities -the economic mainstay of the area – have been grossly hampered.
Ikonikumo briefed newsmen in Yenagoa, with community representatives carrying placards, expressing their displeasure over Conoil’s negligence in handling the situation.
He said the direction of the wind was continuously blowing onshore from the incident point towards the community, lamenting that they were experiencing serious eye irritation.
He said the community had experienced similar incidence in 2017 and 2020 from the same facility, when the company’s rig blew out as a result of fire, explaining that it was fishermen who put off the fire and rescued the workers.
The community called on the Bayelsa State Government and the Federal Government to urgently prevail on Conoil to stop the leakage, provide relief materials to the community and fix the environment.
He said: “On the 31st of October this gas blowout happened, now the whole of the community may be wiped out because you won’t believe what we are experiencing on the sea.
“The gas is blowing directly to the community, killing fishes, fishes are dying in numbers. Everyday we are picking dead fishes, we are now afraid to even pick the dead fishes .
“Up till now as we speak, the gas leaks are still ongoing. The community is no longer safe . We are in danger. The Sangana man is in danger, the fishermen and women are not safe.
“Most of our members have deserted the community as result of the gas leakage. Because we don’t know what will happen next. We are seriously affected.
“We want Conoil to immediately shut down this gas leakage, give us relief materials, fix the environment and give us medical treatments.
“All our fishing materials are gone. If this gas gets into your fishing equiment, that equipment is gone; our boat engines are gone because of this gas.
“We need federal government intervention. Our drinking water is completely polluted, the rain water is the worst, the dugout well is heavily polluted. Sangana is in danger.”
Also speaking, the woman leader of the community, Biebelemo Jonathan, lamented that the gas fumes hurt the eyes. She said that since Conoil came into the area, it has been one case of pollution after the other.
“This Conoil gas leakage is affecting all of us. We can no longer go to the river to bath, wash and fish. We need help. Fishes are floating on the river, everyone is affected – the men, women and children.
“The gas hurts our eyes. The leakage should be stopped. It peppers our eyes.
“Since Conoil came in 1999, it has been one spill or the other. Our creeks are polluted, we cannot bath in the river anymore. We don’t have any other source of livelihoods than fishing,” she lamented.
SweetcrudeReports authoritatively reports that up till the time of filing this story, the incident has not been reported by Conoil Producing Nigeria Ltd to the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, and that there has been no containment measure taken even as gas is still leaking into the environment.
All efforts to speak with the management of Conoil Producing Nigeria Limited have proved abortive, as calls and text messages sent to the company’s spokesperson were neither answered nor replied.
Follow us on twitter