Confusion as Shell, Bayelsa community disagree over cause of oil spill

By The Citizen

The Ikarama Community in the Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa has disagreed with the Shell Petroleum Development Company over the cause of the reported oil spills from nearby oil wells.

The spill has contaminated the Taylor Creek in Yenagoa and residents of Biseni/JK4 Road told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that they disagreed that the spills were caused by oil theft.

Officials of Shell's Oil Spill Response Unit were seen recovering crude discharged into the environment near the company's Well 2 in Biseni Area.

Mr Ambrose Osuolo, Assistant Secretary, Caretaker Committee of JK4 Edagberi/Betterland Community, told NAN that the people were convinced that that some of the spill points were traceable to equipment failure.

'We noticed the spills on April 30 and Shell came for a joint investigation visit (JIV) on May 3. I represented my community on the JIV, but the investigation was inconclusive due to different views held about the cause of the spill.

'While Shell attributed the cause to sabotage, saying that the pipeline was drilled in, I was not convinced and hence we did not sign the JIV report.

'Although Shell came purposely for this particular spill, we discovered two more spill points within this Well 2 environment on that same day.

'The affected pipeline conveys crude from Well 2 to the nearby Adibawa Flow-station. We reported to the Bayelsa Ministry of Environment so that the ministry could put pressure on Shell to mop up the spill in the environment,' Osuolo said.

An SPDC spokesman, Mr Precious Okolobo, in a statement on May 6 attributed the spill to sabotage of pipeline by oil thieves.

The statement said that the preliminary findings indicated that the spill, which was caused by the activities of oil thieves had contaminated the Taylor Creek.

'A joint investigation visit (JIV) was executed and the initial reports indicated that the pipeline was sabotaged by a 20 cm long hacksaw cut.

'SPDC is committed to cleaning up all spills from its facilities as fast as possible regardless of cause. Majority of the spills in the Niger Delta are the result of third party interference,'' it said.

The statement said that the sabotage included theft of equipment or leaks caused by crude oil thieves who drill into pipelines to steal oil.

'On the average, third party interference accounts for around 73 per cent of all oil spill incidents,' SPDC stated.

NAN recalls that Agip was compelled to shut down its onshore crude production facilities in Bayelsa due to unsustainable levels of oil theft.

Agip on March 23, said oil theft from its facilities in the state accounted for a daily loss of 7,000 barrels out of its 40,000 barrels of crude production and declared 'force majeure'  on its oil output.

Force Majeure is a legal clause that frees an oil firm from crude buyers for failure to meet its supply obligations due to circumstances outside of its control. (NAN)