Panic has gripped communities in Yenagoa local government area of Bayelsa state over a gas leakage from the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC). The Ogbeinbiri Obiobi 24 inch Gas pipeline reportedly started leaking in the early hours of Monday, and up till Tuesday, nothing has been done to stop the leak.

Considering the risks usually associated with oil leakage, the Bayelsa state commissioner for environment, Iselema Gbaranbiri, who visited the site called on Agip to take immediate action to stop the leakage.

In a similar development, residents of Lasukugbene community in Southern Ijaw local government area of Bayelsa State have berated Agip over its response to the oil spill that reportedly occurred in the area.

The community claimed that Agip has remained insensitive and negligent for six weeks after two major oil spills occurred in the community from the Tebidaba-Brass Trunk pipeline, Agip claimed that its response effort was hampered by the community.

The Italian parent company to Agip, Eni, in a statement, said the oil firm took prompt action but its officials were denied access to the spill site.

“We confirm that there was a leak reported on 05/03/2021 along the Tebidaba-Brass 18’ pipeline, located in the Southern Ijaw area of Bayelsa State.

“The company acted promptly following this report and the pipeline was shut-in, while all containment/environmental protection measures were put in place. Unfortunately, the repair of the pipeline and the joint investigation were hindered by neighbouring local communities.

“The leak was repaired on 21st March once the company was granted access. The disruption of intervention was reported to the appropriate regulatory agencies,” Eni stated.

According to a report by the News Agency of Nigeria, environmentalists led by the head of Bayelsa field operations at ERA/FoEN, Mr. Alagoa Morris, who visited the spill site on Monday, noticed a large polluted area that has yet to be cleaned.

The report noted that Mr. Zion Kiantei, a resident and Mr. Valiant Jackson, community secretary, complained that the Lasukugbene community had not benefited from the oil company since it started operations in the area in 1974.

The environmentalists noted that in spite of the dearth of benefits from oil exploration, frequent oil spills had destroyed the ecosystem, crippling fishing and farming activities.

The environmental rights group which consisted of the Environmental Right Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) and Home of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), therefore called on the Bayelsa and the Federal Governments to sanction the oil company for negligence over the two oil spills that occurred in Lasukugbene Community.

The leader of the group, Mr. Morris described the oil leak as a major spill and decried Agip’s failure to carry out routine checks on its facilities, which resulted in the spills.

Mr. Morris further blamed the oil regulatory agencies over regulatory failures.

While calling for immediate cleanup and remediation, he also called for relief materials to be sent to the people of Lasukugbene community to cushion the effects of the spills.

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