Up to 50 percent of the leaked oil from the deepwater Bonga Floating Production Storge and Offloading Vessel, FPSO, has already dissipated due to natural dispersion and evaporation, according to the Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company, SNEPCo.
“As satellite pictures have shown, the overall area covered by the sheen is large. However, the sheen itself is very thin (less than a hundredth of a millimeter) in most areas,” Shell added in a statement last week.
Describing the incident as “a third tier spill”, the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, the industry regulator, said this has necessitated “the call-up of a full scale reponse/intervention plan at all levels.”
Shell’s country chair in Nigeria, Mr. Mutiu Sunmonu, who once again apologised for the incident, said: “We have carried out helicopter flights over the affected area. To accelerate the clean-up at sea, we are deploying vessels with dispersants to break up the oil sheen at sea. We are mobilising airplanes that will support the vessels in this operation. We are deploying infra-red equipment to be able to trace the few areas where the sheen may be thicker. That allows for a targeted use of the dispersant. Let me also mention that we are currently working with the Nigerian government to inform local communities and fishermen about the situation.”
In this regard, the DPR said in a statement that it was “following and monitoring the spill incident very closely and has issued appropriate guidance and directives to NEPCO to ensure that the spill incident remains under effective control.”
It reassured the public that it was ensuring the effective containment of the spill to prevent further spillage of crude oil and minimise the environmental impact.
It added that all the relevant agencies were working together to bring the situation under control within the shortest possible time.
Meanwhile, Shell said it has traced “the likely source” of last Tuesday’s spill to “an export line linking the FPSO to the tanker,” which it had since closed and de-pressurised, halting the flow of oil.
Shell was forced to shut in the Bonga facility on Wednesday and is yet to declare a force majeure, to legally free it from the responsibility of any supply default.