By Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoa—Environmental Rights Action/Friends of Earth Nigeria, ERA/FoEN, has called for a comprehensive audit of safety procedures at Agip oilfields in Bayelsa State following rising cases of explosions.
No fewer than three explosions had been recorded at oilfields operated by Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NAOC, in the last nine months in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state.
They include the blast of July 9, 2015 at Azuzuama area, which left 14 persons dead; the explosion on March 26, 2016 which claimed three lives while the third in February 2016 had no casualty.
ERA/FoEN, which made the call in its field report by Mr Alagoa Morris, Head of Field Resources, Bayelsa State, said that the frequent fatal accidents had claimed 17 lives in the past nine months.
The group called for stiff sanctions, including revocation of operational licence of NAOC if found culpable.
He said: “The authorities should set up an investigative panel of enquiry to follow up this incident to its logical conclusion and there should be a public hearing on the report of such a panel.
“Community representatives and civil society groups should be given an opportunity to also contribute to such effort to bring out the truth of the matter.
“The oil industry is very important to the nation and it would be gross disservice and negligence on the part of the three tiers of government not to accord proper investigation of such incidents the importance they deserve.”
ERA also recommended that autopsy should be carried out on the victims of the explosion to determine the actual cause of the deaths, adding that deaths during repairs at NAOC’s oil fields had reached alarming levels.
Sanctions, according to the group, should be considered as a measure to make the industry more serious and professional in terms of engaging contractors, safety and oilfield practices in the field.
ERA also urged the regulatory agencies to ensure that Agip was compelled to clean up and remediate the impacted environment.