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Oil spills: Diri faults ‘unfair’ collaboration between regulators, Aiteo

Oil spills: Diri faults ‘unfair’ collaboration between regulators, Aiteo
April 13
13:03 2022

Douye Diri, Bayelsa state governor, has faulted the unfair collaboration and collusion of oil firms and regulatory bodies against the interest of host communities in the Niger Delta.

Diri said this on Tuesday during a courtesy visit of Lucky Irabor, chief of defence staff, to the government house in Yenagoa.

A statement by Daniel Alabrah, the governor’s chief press secretary, quoted Diri as saying part of the security challenges in host communities resulted from the unfair treatment by the oil companies  and the regulatory authorities.

“For us as a government, from the moment we assumed office, we have always preached peace and security and looking for constitutional, legal and legitimate ways of addressing the injustices over the years in our state,” the governor said. 

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Diri alluded to an oil spill caused by an Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company (AEEPCO) facility which continued to spill for over a month. 

The spill, which was said to have started on November 5, 2021, had been described by Diri as worse than what happened in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

According to the governor, it eventually resulted in litigation due to issues surrounding compensation for the affected communities.

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“A case in point was the Aiteo oil spill. That facility was said to be unproductive, was not decommissioned and it spewed oil for over a month, which was the first of its kind in the history of oil exploration in this country,” Diri said. 

“At the end of the day, a potential source of conflict was during the joint inspection visit, which has caused a rift between the state government, AITEO and, to an extent, the supervisors from the oil and gas sector.”

Diri said the disposition of his government towards the affected host communities prevented another conflict.

“However, because of our disposition, we have been able to calm down our communities. Now it is the state government with the local government on one side, and of course Aiteo and the supervising oil and gas bodies on the other side, which I feel should not be if we do what is right, and if there is equity and fairness,” he said. 

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“For the fact that the environment has been affected as well as the source of livelihood of the people, it is very human for the oil companies to have immediately responded by way of compensation.

“Unfortunately, what we have seen is that there is some collaboration and collusion with Aiteo and the regulatory agencies and we were forced to take legal action against Aiteo.”

Diri, therefore, called for synergy between the state and the military. 

He recalled that it was the focus when the chief of defence staff invited governors to Abuja to discuss how to ensure uninterrupted oil and gas production in the Niger Delta when he was newly appointed.

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He emphasised that his administration was open to collaborate and strengthen the existing relationship between the state and the security agencies.

Earlier, Irabor said he was in Bayelsa with his team because they recognised the important role of the state government in accommodating and strengthening the operations of the country’s armed forces.

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He added that the visit was also to solidify the partnership between both parties, particularly in combating oil theft, kidnapping and the destruction of oil facilities across the state.

The defence chief noted that any form of destruction of the nation’s oil investment was a direct attack on the future of the country’s oil wealth. 

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