Nembe Oil Spill: Minister Calls for Calm Among Host Communities
….. Describes the oil spill as inevitable accident
By Kenechukwu Obiajuru, Yenagoa
The federal government has called on the host communities in the Santa Barbara well area where the November 5 oil spill took place in Nembe, Bayelsa state to exercise little more patience as concrete steps are being taken to contain the spill.
Minister of state for petroleum resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, who visited area yesterday expressed satisfaction with the efforts being put in place by Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company, operators of Oil Mining Lease (OML) 29, and the well control firms currently managing the disaster.
Sylva said he was at the site at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari. He described the spill as an accident that can always happen in the industry.
“No one can stop an accident but when an accident happens, we want to also see that efforts are being taken to ensure that things are corrected. So, we have come, and we have seen as sent by Mr. President. We have gone to the site, we have looked at it and we have seen that the company (Aiteo) is making reasonable effort to contain the spill.
“We will be back and make a comprehensive report to Mr. President and we will get back to the community,” the minister told newsmen yesterday. He pointed out that Aiteo who operated OML 29 has also assured that they were doing everything to ensure that the Christmas Rig was repaired as soon as possible.
He commended the affected communities for their peaceful disposition since the incident occurred, assuring that president Buhari was concerned about their plights. Speaking earlier, Aiteo’s chief operating officer, Mr. Ewariezi Useh said the oil firm was in contact with international oil and gas servicing companies such as Halibotton and others and are being mobilized to site to kill the surging oil well and bring it under control.
“We are concerned about the communities because they are our partners. We are concerned about the plights they have to face in cause of this incidence,” Useh added. Also speaking, the executive officer, Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission, Gbenga Komolafe assured that the regulators would operate within the ambit of international best practices so that their activities would not further negatively impact the communities.
Responding, His Royal Majesty, Amanyanabo of Opu-Nembe Kingdom, King Biobelemoye Josiah, also commended Aiteo for sending relief materials to the affected communities and urged the oil company to do more just as he advised Aiteo to desist from being quick to blame the oil spill on sabotage so as to create cordial relationship between it and the community.