May 23, 2024

Environmentalists lament Eroton’s OML 18 wellhead blowout on the environment


Nathan Tamarapreye, Yenagoa

Environmentalists have lamented the adverse impact of the ongoing gas and oil leaks from Cawthorne Channel well15 within OML18, operated by Eroton Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited.

The June 15 incident has been discharging massive crude oil and gas under high pressure into the environment.

In a reaction, Dr Nnimmo Bassey, Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) described the incident as a big blow to the biodiversity of the Niger Delta region.

Bassey, a renowned rights activist who holds the national honour of Member of Order of Federal Republic (MFR) for Environmental Activism regretted that respite was yet to come as the leak was yet to be plugged.

He said the frequency of well blowouts was disturbing, adding that the Cawthorne Channel well 15 wellheads appeared as dilapidated as that of Aiteo which erupted in Santa Barbara on Nov 5, 2021.

Bassey urged the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) to audit the integrity of oil facilities in the Niger Delta region to stem the frequent eruptions which pollute the environment.

Bassey also urged the government to develop a system that ensures communities are consulted before multinational oil operators divest their assets and liabilities to other companies.

“While the well blowout at Aiteo incident was spraying in two horizontal directions? This one is shooting into the sky and spraying horizontally to one side.

“The wellhead also looks as decrepit as the one at Santa Barbara.

These and other dilapidated well heads require urgent maintenance.

“NOSDRA ought to carry out a review of the state of the well heads across the Niger Delta to ensure that they don’t keep erupting and damaging the environment.

“The oil companies should also be required to secure their well heads and facilities to ensure they are out of reach of oil thieves and others.

“This incident is a horrible assault on the environment irrespective of what the cause of the incident may be.

“It shows that divestment exercise must not be done haphazardly.

“The Government has to develop a system that ensures that communities are fully consulted before international oil companies sell their assets and liabilities to local companies,” Bassey said.

Also, the Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC) expressed concern over yet another massive ongoing oil spill in the Niger Delta, less than six months after the November 2021 Aiteo spill in Nembe, Bayelsa.

Executive Director of YEAC, Mr Dumnamene Fyneface, said the wellhead eruption was one too many, as it destroys water bodies, flora and fauna up to the Atlantic Ocean considering the speed and volume of oil now continuing for weeks.

Fyneface charged NOSDRA, Eroton and all concerned authorities to quickly clamp the spill points, clean up the environment and adequately compensate the local people whose sources of water and livelihoods have been destroyed by this spillage.

“Information available to us is that this ongoing spill is from a facility owned and operated by an indigenous oil company, Eroton E&P Ltd, another Shell’s divested facility in OML 18.

Similar to the Aiteo oil spill from another Shell divested facility; an indication that shows that what the local companies bought from Shell are more liabilities than assets.

“YEAC is worried that when destructive spills of this nature occur, damaging the ecosystems and livelihoods sources, oil operators, even without joint investigation visit, are always quick to blame third parties in order to shy away from responsibilities associated with their spillages,” YEAC said.

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