BY Bunmi Aduloju
A wellhead owned by Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company (AEEPCO) and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has continued to spill — two weeks after the initial leak.
The Eastern Exploration and Production Company is the operator of the joint venture on the OML 29 block.
Community leaders and stakeholders said the oil spill started November 5 in a wellhead around Nembe community, Bayelsa state and it is still spewing oil, according to a report by Reuters.
Ndiana-Abasi Matthew, a spokesperson for the Aiteo group, in a statement, said the spill was from a non-producing wellhead in the Santa Barbara South field in block OML 29.
Matthew said the enormity of the incident “is of an extremely high order,” adding that containment booms have been deployed and recovery began instantly around the wellhead.
“As an incident of this nature imports, the necessary oil spill notification report has been promptly communicated to the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), and the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS) as is required by regulation,” a statement from Aiteo reads.
“Preliminary indications suggest that crude oil theft leaks and sabotage cannot be ruled out.”
However, Douye Diri, governor of Bayelsa, expressed displeasure with the operator of the joint venture over failure to stop the oil spill.
In a statement issued on Friday, Ayibaina Duba, the state’s commissioner for information, orientation, and strategy, said the state government was disappointed that Aiteo had neglected to take any concrete steps since the leak.
The governor described the leak as equipment failure rather than sabotage.
He queried why Aiteo would allow the massive spill to continue, saying it would spread to many more communities and undermine the economic life of residents who are predominantly farmers and fishermen.