Otuokpoti Spill: NGO petitions NOSDRA, seeks best practices in remediation process

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By Kenechukwu Obiajuru, Yenagoa

Oil and Gas Producing Areas Enlightenment and Empowerment Initiative (OGPAEEI) has petitioned the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) over a 2016 spill in Bayelsa.

It would be recalled that an oil leak from an oilfield operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) had in November 2016 discharged yet to be ascertained volume of crude into the Ekoli River in Bayelsa.

SPDC had on November 7, 2016 confirmed the spill and said  the source of the oil leak that polluted Otuokpoti communities in Bayelsa was being investigated.

Mr Precious Okolobo, who was then Medial Relations Manager at SPDC had said that there was no oil leakage from its operations in the area.

“The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC) is investigating reports of a leak around Otuokpiti community waterfront situated downstream the Ekoli River, where a section of SPDC’s Nun River – Kolo Creek Pipeline is buried.

“Preliminary site visits did not indicate any spill.

“SPDC has, however, shut the pipeline as a precautionary measure pending further investigation,” SPDC stated.

Officials of SPDC and Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC) had visited Ekoli Creek near Otuokpoti in Bayelsa in search of the source of oil leak in the area.

OGPAEEI, a Non Governmental Organisation in the petition made available to orient daily news  in Yenagoa urged NOSDRA to compel the operator to comply with industry standards in the spill.

OGPAEEI in its petition addressed to the Director-General of NOSDRA, De Peter Idabor dated Dec. 24, 2018 claimed that SPDC’s response to the incident fell short of industry standards as spelt out in the NOSDRA act.

It said that while the spill had polluted the Ekoli River and spread the oil discharge across communities along its bank, SPDC restricted its community engagement to Otuokpoto community excluding other communities.

“This spill affected more than 500 communities in Ogbia, Nembe, Brass and Southern Ijaw Local Government Areas (LGA) of Bayelsa. This is moreso because these areas are in ebbs and tides within the floods plain.

“We have not seen and felt a proper procedure of contentment and mitigation of this spill by following international best practices, we have also not seen a report of this spill to appropriate agencies of the Federal Government.

“There was no comprehensive physical ecological and social mapping of the affected areas and ecosystems, we are yet to see any report of NOSDRA and its participation in containment and mitigation of short and long time impact.

“Our call therefore is for NOSDRA to compel SPDC to involve the regulatory agency namely NOSDRA and other agencies involved in spill monitoring and management in the site visit to impacted areas.

“We call for immediate comprehensive and holistic mapping of the impacted area in Yenagoa, Ogbia, Nembe, Brass and Southern LGAs, a Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) could still be done to meet international best practices,” The petition read in part.

The NGO further urged NOSDRA to compel Shell to immediately deploy spill response and containment teams for clean up and remediation of polluted sites, short and long term to bring lasting relief to impacted communities.

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