By Kenechukwu Obiajuru, Yenagoa. 

Aiteo Exploration Ltd, operator of the 97-kilometre Nembe Creek Trunk Line (NCTL) has confirmed Friday’s explosion on the crude export pipeline.

Aiteo officials said that the resulting fire from the explosion which burned till Saturday has been put out and that no loss of life was recorded.

The incident on NCTL with a capacity of conveying 150,000 barrels of crude daily to the Bonny oil export terminal will adversely affect crude export having been put out of use.

The Public Relations Manager of Aiteo, Mr Ndiana-Abasi Mathew confirmed the incident in a Short Message on Saturday.

“There is no official statement at the moment but I can gladly inform you that the fire has been contained and no lives were lost,” Mathew said

It will be learnt that the oil export line was shut for emergency repairs following a leak when the incident occurred and discharged residual crude and gas trapped in the pipeline.

It will be recalled that Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in 2015 divested its equity in OML 29 and transferred its interest in NCTL for $1.7 bn to Aiteo, an indigenous Oil and Gas Exploration and Production firm.

Community sources at Nembe in Bayelsa have bemoaned negative impact of the explosion and said that the incident led to both gas leakage and oil spill compelling them to flee.

Spokesman of the Nembe Chiefs Council, Chief Nengi James–Eriworio, who confirmed the development, noted the explosion caused massive destruction of the area with air and water heavily polluted.

“People have deserted the area and the company has refused to respond despite series of emergency calls to report the incident to them.

“As at early morning of Saturday, the fire is still raging. And with gas and crude leak flowing freely you can then imagine the fate of our people.

“The poor response of Aiteo to this incident is not acceptable and questionable. The people are traumatized and their health put at risk,” James-Eriworio said.

According to him, oil leak from the pipeline had covered the surface of the nearby river, making it unsafe for navigation and artisanal fishing vocation of the people.

James-Eriworio also appealed to the Federal Government and oil industry regulatory agencies to intervene and investigate and respond to salvage the people.

“We are concerned that Aiteo, despite the clandestine acquisition of the asset from SPDC without due consultation with the people has continued to undermine the economic rights of the people.

“We are worried about the poor incident response and attitude of the company towards the host communities in Nembe.

“They have abused the rights of the people. We are ready to drag the company before the National Assembly and the Presidency,” James-Eriworio, said.

The explosion, which occurred at about 4am on Friday near Oil Well 7, sacked indigenes of the affected communities.

The Nembe communities affected include Nembe creek 1,2 and 3, Jalungo, Fatuo and Kalablomi in Nembe Local Government of Bayelsa.

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