Operators of OML 29 Wellhead in the Santa Barbara South field in Nembe, Bayelsa State, have assured Nigerians that in a matter of days, the leakage will be addressed.
The wellhead, which blew up on November 3, 2021, is being pumped with chemicals that will contain further leakage in “one or two days,” Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company (AEEPCO) which jointly owns the well with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), has said.
The firm said yesterday that the spill had already been substantially diminished.
The firm’s global group director/coordinator Andrew Oru said the spill was of a special type – a gas blowout – which involved 80 per cent gas and 20 per cent oil.
During the tour, which took both dimensions (helicopter view and patrol boats along the waterways around the vicinity), it was easily observed that the oil spillage was minimal as it was effectively contained both by what is known as the booms. This was contrary to the impression that the entire environment had been seriously polluted.
Oru described as “spurious” claims that the leak spilled two million barrels of oil into the creeks, explaining that the well’s production capacity, including its total reserves, was nowhere near two million barrels.
Oru spoke in Opu-Nembe in Nembe Local Government Area (LGA) after taking journalists on a tour of ground zero.
“The talk of two million barrels of oil spilling from the well is spurious. Two million barrels is about two super tankers; the oil would have spread over the entire country. The reserve of the well itself is nowhere near two million barrels,” he said.
He assured the community that all was being done to prevent any humanitarian or ecological disaster.
Oru said: “I can tell you authoritatively that the pressure of the well has been substantially diminished already, because all the chemicals that are needed to put the pressure under control are being fed in continuously and the pressure has started going down.
“This spill is a special type. It’s not just an oil spill, it’s a gas blowout, for whatever reason. There are two stages in containing it. The first one is to stop the gas leakage. The second is to fill the well.
“It is the gas leakage that engenders and creates room for some droplets of oil to escape with gas.
“The well is a gas well, 80 per cent gas and about 20 per cent oil; that is why it is relatively easy for us to contain the amount of oil that spills out. Ordinarily, if what is coming out now was oil, I can imagine that we’ll be needing Noah’s Ark by now.”
He noted that the heavy vegetation of the area by which oxygen is emitted in large quantities and which flows freely as well had also helped to absorb gaseous emissions.
“But critically speaking, the pressure of the gas that is coming out has been almost completely extinguished and in one or two days maximum, I believe we will proceed further to begin the well kill process,” Oru said.
The company also donated five truckloads of palliative, including food and medical supplies, to the Nembe Kingdom.
The items, received by the community’s leaders, were stored in the Opu Nembe Town Hall for onward distribution to fishing communities directly affected by the spill.
The donated items are 10 cows, 500 bags of rice, 500 cartons of noodles, 500 cartons of water, 500 tubers of yam, 200 cartons of toilet rolls, 200 cartons of milk, 200 bags of garri, 200 cartons of tin tomatoes, 100 cartons of beverages and 100 cartoons of vegetable oil.
Others are 100 Knorr season cubes, 100 bags of salt, 100 bags of Ariel soaps, Jerry cans of palm oil, six digital thermometers, four blood pressure machines, two sugar testing kits, 150 packs of Coartem for malaria, five packs of PCM, five cartons of Detoil, 40 mosquito nets, Vitamin C and fully equipped first aid boxes.
Chairman of Opu-Nembe Council of Chiefs, Chief Ori Ango Ekpeleyai-Oruwari, who spoke on behalf of the Nembe monarch, said: “On behalf of the Amanayanbo of Opu-Nembe Kingdom, I receive these relief materials that are coming to our community for the second time.
“For those who are directly impacted in the oil spillage from OML 29 at Santa Barbara we are indeed very grateful to Aiteo for bringing this relief materials to us.”