Bayelsa Government Bicker Over Nembe Spill Report

Uche Cecil Izuora

A report by the joint investigation committee on the Nembe oil spill is pointing to possible third party interference, but the Bayelsa State government is disputing that insisting that equipment failure could be the case.

The committee comprised of regulators, operators of the well Aiteo, regulators, Nembe community representatives and engineering consultants from Kenyon International who were dispatched to the Nembe spill site to determine possible cause of the incident.

Crude oil from a blowout spilled crude into creeks in the Santa Babara well river in Bayelsa state since November 5, 2021.

Operator of the facility Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production was unable to contain the spill until Kenyon International West Africa Company Limited, a Nigerian-owned oil and gas servicing company was brought in to block the leakage.

“We were able to install the well control package hydraulically, rigged up and killed the well. It was only after suppressing the formation pressure that we were able to retrieve the well control package and installed a new one” said Victor Ekpenyong, CEO of Kenyon International West Africa Company Limited.

Ekpenyong, said that Aiteo was working with Kenyon International to ensure another oil spillage does not happen in Nembe and other regions again.

“Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production have proactively made efforts to take an inventory of some of their wells that are not flowing, to determine wells that can be exposed to third-party interference to ensure Nembe community does not experience this kind of appalling incident anymore,” he said.

The representative of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Ismail Baba Ahmed said that the Leakage was caused by third-party interference.

“There was no way the internal pressure from the well would have removed the valves. The most likely cause that could remove those valves were external human influence” he said.

Biriyai Dambo, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Bayelsa state however said the report does not align with the position of the state government.

“In protest, we did not sign that document. We even asked them to allow us to state our position. Our own avowed position is that it was equipment failure.”

Chief Andrew Oru, Representative of Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company, operators of the affected well said the report of the investigation was corroboration of their earlier findings.

“From the findings and information gathered by well control experts, it has been made succinctly clear that this well could not have a blowout under whatever circumstances because of the way it was designed to be; unless there was third-party interference. The experts who killed the well have come forward to say the same thing. Others have buttressed the same position” he said.

Kenyon International have made conscious efforts to send relief materials to the people of Nembe community and Aiteo also empathized with the community over the hardship experienced and pledged to the remediation of the environment.

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