Oil Production May Decline As FG Shuts Santa Barbara Fields

Nigeria oil production output would suffer some decline, following the decision of the federal government to shut down Santa Barbara oil fields, operated by AITEO Eastern Exploration and Production Company Limited (AEEPCo).

The Ministry of Environment in a statement said the federal government decision was to contain the spill which occured earlier in the month at the Opu Nembe Community at Well 1, Well Head located at the Southern Field of Santa Barbara.

Although it said expert intervention led had led to recovery of 3000 barrel of emulsified crude the closure of the well would reduce the country’s oil out in put of 1.451m barrel per day according to Organisation of Oil Producing Countries (OPEC).

The statement signed by the Director, Press and Public Relations, Saghir el Mohammed reads in part, “to address the recent unfortunate oil spillage at Santa Barbara in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, the Federal Government has directed the exploration company, AITEO Eastern Exploration and Production Company Limited (AEEPCo) to halt operations in the area until proper investigation is carried out and adequate measures put in place to ensure the safety of lives and property in the area.

“It can be recalled that the spill occured on November 5, 2021 in a form of a fountain within the proximity of Opu Nembe Community at Well 1, Well Head located at the Southern Field of Santa Barbara.

“Upon receipt of the report of the incident, a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) comprising the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regualtory Commission (NUPRC), Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment, community representatives and Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company was set up on November 6, 2021 to immediately address the situation.

“Consequently, the JIT directed AEEPCo to shut in the impacted asset (well head) for appropriate oil II response. Accordingly, AEEPCo deployed booms and skimmers to contain the spill crude oil from spreading.

“As at November 10, 2021, efforts to shut in the well has proven difficult due to inaccessibility. But in an effort to safeguard the environment and livelihood, staff from the NOSDRA’s Yenagoa Field Office were deployed to the site to monitor and give progress report on the measures being taken to address the issue. There are further directives to AEEPCo to engage all relevant stakeholders in the spilled oil recovery process.

“In this vein, 3000 barrels of emulsified crude oil have been recovered and held in a recovery barge. Also, additional booms were deployed by the Clean Nigeria Associates, a Tier II response (CNA) System to work with the on-site recovery contractor.

“Further effort yielded result as containment and recovery within the leak area have been reinforced by 15th November. Clean Nigeria Associates (CNA) has mobilized to site for enhanced containment and recovery.

“Boot & Coots, mobilized for well control and securing. AEEPCo has secured temporary Work Permit for expatriates expected in the country for the activity. Logistics support and arrangement build-up for the Well kill activity is currently ongoing.

“Based on JIT reports, a well control company (Kenyon International) was at the incident location for an on-site assessment. Meanwhile containment and recovery is still on-going.

The Ijaw National Congress (INC) has faulted Aiteo’s response to the November 5 oil spill stating that Aiteo’s attributions to sabotage is wrong as a Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) had not been conducted on the incident.

This was disclosed on Tuesday by the President of INC, Prof. Benjamin Okaba, in a press briefing at the national secretariat of the organisation in Yenagoa.

This also comes after the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) said that a Joint Investigation into the cause cannot be held until the leak is stopped, as reported by the News Agency of Nigeria. NOSDRA also stated that the spill impacted fishing settlements along the Nembe creeks.

What the Ijaw National Congress said

Okaba faulted Aiteo’s position on sabotage, saying it was capable of jeopardizing the outcome of the JIV that is yet to be carried out as crude oil is still leaking from the facility.

“First and foremost, we want to express our dismay over the position of Aiteo that the oil spill was caused by sabotage. The INC considers this position as prejudicial and pre-emptive, and it is unacceptable.

“Since the leak occurred, Aiteo has been complaining that it does not have the capacity to mobilise personnel to clamp the leaking point on the facility.

“So the question is: without the JIV, how did they come up to ascertain that it is caused by sabotage?” he asked.

The INC added that the site is still leaking, as it is of a peculiar nature because it is not from the pipeline. It is coming from the flow under, to the extent that it is difficult for any living being to even access the spot of damage.

“It requires high technology,” Okaba said.

The INC also faulted Aiteo’s response to the community stating that it was dirty politics.

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