By Osa Okhomina,Yenagoa
Residents of Ikarama community in Yenagoa local government area of Bayelsa State, have lamented the adverse impact of an oil leak from a nearby Shell’s oilfield, calling for the immediate remediation of the situation.
The oil pollution is from the April 7, 2021 leak from Shell’s 14-inch Okordia-Rumekpe pipeline which discharged crude into the area.
The Okordia-Rumemkpe crude trunkline is part of the Trans Niger Pipeline (TNP), operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and conveys crude to the oil firm’s crude export terminal at Bonny in Rivers State.
LEADERSHIP gathered that a Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) was conducted and the report confirmed that the leak was traced to equipment failure which emanated from a rupture on the 14-inch crude delivery pipeline.
The JIV exercise, which is a statutory probe into the cause of any recorded spill incident involving the oil firm, regulators, host communities and state ministries of environment, discovered that some 213 barrels which had no impact on the environment outside SPDC’s right of way leaked from its asset, while approximately 110 barrels polluted 1.34 hectares of land.
Residents near the spill impacted site told LEADERSHIP that they have suffered untold hardship from the pollution of land, air and lakes near the area due to the evaporation of the leaked crude by the scorching sun.
Mr Education Ikiowori, who works at the Ikarama oilfields and witnessed the JIV, said the spill was as a result of corrosion. He said that Shell and the regulators had visited and they excavated the place in search of the cause of the spill.
“They all saw that the rupture was caused by corrosion, yet Shell disagreed.
“Normally SPDC when they come even if the spill was caused by corrosion, they would try to influence it in their favour by saying it was caused by third party so as to avoid responsibility to the land owners. For this one, thank God that it was very obvious that it was equipment failure as the government representatives and regulators and all who were here confirmed it,” he said.
Chief Washington Odoyibo said that residents have been experiencing the antics of Shell, attributing every spill incident to sabotage times without number.
“When the spill occurred at this place in November, 2019
during the flood, Shell came here and turned it to sabotage.This pipeline is over 40 years, I was a child when they laid this pipe here They refused to replace it and it is failing every now and then,”
The community leader also dismissed the claim by SPDC that some 213 barrels has no impact on the environment and wondered if the environment where the 213 barrels of crude spilled into was isolated from the area. He explained that due to the high intensity of the sun, the leaked crude evaporates into the air and cause choking sensation that triggered cough and respiratory difficulties amongst the people.
He said the people of Ikarama were in dire need of medical intervention following the pollution of air, water and land as well as relief materials.
“When our people inhale this crude oil, in a short while one can come down with cough. This crude oil can give different kinds of sicknesses; cough, running nose and so on. So, this thing is affecting us. Besides that, if we go inside this our swamp here, you would see different kinds of fish dead because of this spill. Fish ponds have been destroyed’,’ he added.
When contacted on the development, the SPDC’s media relations manager, Mr Bamidele Odugbesan, who confirmed the spill, pledged to issue a statement on the incident and steps taken to mitigate the pollution, but was yet to do so as at the time of filing this report.