By Michael Eboh
Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company, AEEPCo, yesterday faulted claims by the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, that it is trying to frustrate investigation into the fire incident in one of its facilities in Nembe, Bayelsa State.
Aiteo, in a statement in Abuja, declared that NOSDRA’s assertions seem inconsistent with available evidence and suggests ‘either a communication gap within the organisation or an unexplainable fabrication.”
NOSDRA, had on Monday, accused Aiteo of frustrating efforts to investigate the incident.
Francis Umeh, Head of NOSDRA’s Field Office in Bayelsa had disclosed that the stance of the oil firm was slowing NOSDRA from promptly carrying out its mandate.
Umeh also accused Aiteo of not reporting the incidence within 24 hours of occurrence as stipulated by law.
“The incident occurred on Friday and it took them some time to report it officially to NOSDRA; we have plans to visit the site, but the operator is resisting and frustrating our efforts,” Umeh had said.
However, in its reaction, Aiteo insisted that it had notified NOSDRA of the fire incident within 24 hours of its occurrence, as stipulated by law.”
It said, “Contrary to some reports, AEEPCo notified NOSDRA of the fire at its oil well in Nembe, Bayelsa State on March 1. Recall that on March 2, 2019, it was erroneously announced that scores of people were missing after an explosion occurred along the Nembe Creek Trunk Line, NCTL, which is the major crude oil pipeline traversing the Nembe area. Aiteo is the operator of the NCTL as well as the Oil Mining Lease (OML) 29.
“Further details on the incident from the affected area as well as statements from Aiteo and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, have cleared that it was not a pipeline explosion but a fire at a nearby oil well. Also, there was no casualty from the incident. This was corroborated by community people who later confirmed that there were no missing individuals.”
Aiteo declared that it had contacted the relevant agencies, including NOSDRA on the matter through a document referenced AEEPCo/PRD/2019/05 and signed by its Chief Operating Officer, Emmanuel Ukegbu.