Port Harcourt — A group known as Ifalibobou Revolutionary Movement, IRM, has issued a 72 hours ultimatum to an indigenous oil firm, First Exploration and Petroleum Development Company, First E&P, over the integrity of an oil rig deployed to two oilfields in OML 83 and OML 85 in Koluama communities of Bayelsa State.
The two oil fields, Ayala in OML 83 and Madu in OML 85, with a combined potential of over 340 million barrels of oil equivalent, including 45 percent gas deposits, were hitherto operated by Chevron Nigeria Limited, until 2015 when CNL divested its 40percent stake and sold it to First E&P.
In January 2012, a rig blow out at Chevron’s oilfield in OML 85, resulting to a fire incident that burnt out the KS Endeavor rig for 48 days, destroying the flora and fauna of the coastal communities of Koluama 1&2, Ekeni, Foropa, Fish Town, Ezetu and Sangana, popularly called KEFFES, in Southern Ijaw and Brass Local Government Areas of Bayelsa State.
But Ifalibobou Revolutionary Movement is worried over the integrity and state of the oil rig deployed by First E&P to oilfields in the area, urging the oil firm to clarify the safety records of the rig within 72 hours to avoid a repeat of the 2012 rig disaster in the area.
Leader of IRM, Mr Joseph Sese, alleged that the company began operations in the area without taking cognizance of the negative impact their operations would have on the host communities.
Sese in a letter to the oil firm demanded that failure to show proof of integrity of the facility, the rig should leave the territorial waters of Southern Ijaw and Brass Local Government Areas of Bayelsa.
The letter reads, “We express our deepest concern over the sudden appearance of an oil drilling rig contracted by First Exploration and Petroleum Development Company in the territorial waters of KEFFES host Communities in Southern Ijaw and Brass Local Government Areas of Bayelsa state.
“As aboriginal indigenes of the coast line and territorial watch dogs we are highly vexed by the manner of your voyage for oil exploratory activities in our offshore waters without any show of the integrity of the rig to the community.
“As the incident of 16th January, 2012 is still fresh in our memory except you jack-up your rig and leave our region within seventy two hours (72 hrs) for the safety of your workers and equipment.
“We sincerely don’t want a repeat of the disastrous gas exploration that caused severe damage to our marine environment and the entire ecosystem of the KEFFES region.
“The way and manner your rig appeared in our territory is a sad remembrance of the way and manner the Rig, K.S. Endeavor came into our coast in an oil exploratory activities without an EIA Report and Contingency Plan as required by law.
“The end of it was a colossal damage to Human and Environmental Elements.
“It is imperative to state that your drilling operation will generate severe environmental impact such as Air and Water pollution, climate change, over exploitation of the marine ecosystem.
“It will yield major ecological and environmental stresses with irreversible loss of species, destruction of habitat and climate catastrophes.
“Your activities will impact not only the states and dynamics of natural resources and ecosystem but also alter human health, well being, welfare and economic wealth since these resources are support fortunes to the human lives in the area,” the letter read in part.