By Obas Esiedesa – Abuja
The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) has disclosed that it was closely monitoring the oil spill at the Santa Barbara Well 1 operated by AITEO Eastern Exploration and Production Company in Bassambiri, Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
The Commission clarified that there was no life lost as a result of the spill.
The Chief Executive of NUPRC, Engr Gbenga Komolafe in a statement in Abuja said the Commission was working closely with the operator to stop the spill and begin a clean up of the area.
Komolafe reiterated the commitment of the Commission to tackle oil spills in the Nigerian oil and gas sector in fulfilment of its regulatory mandate as enshrined in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021, Petroleum Act and the Petroleum (Drilling and Production) Regulations and subsidiary legislations.
He said: “Our preliminary investigations have revealed that there were no fatalities in the incident. However crude oil and gas were seen gushing out from valves close to the top of the wellhead at high pressure but without any associated fire. The water surrounding the wellhead was polluted with oil. The affected well had been previously shut-in and therefore not producing at the time of incident”.
He explained that “the Commission will continue to monitor the site situation and guide the operator until the spill and its attendant problems are completely addressed. This includes but is not limited to implementing all effective physical and engineering solutions to the incident, managing the safety of the response providers and people in the neighbouring communities and educating the general public on the site situation periodically.
“In specific terms, the Commission will ensure that the pressure from the well is stopped to put an end to the oil release, the already released oil is appropriately contained and skimmed off as it is being released, a joint investigation visit (JIV) is conducted as soon as it is safe to do so, cleanup and restorative actions are done immediately after the spill is stopped and compensation paid to affected communities timeously and in accordance with the law”.
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He explained further that the Commission appreciated “the concerns raised in different quarters following the incident and wish to inform the general public and our stakeholders that the Commission has taken all necessary steps alongside the relevant stakeholders to ensure that the situation does not degenerate further.
“It was confirmed that upon receiving the report of the incident, the operator, AITEO mobilized immediately for preliminary assessment of site conditions and based on the specific site requirements, positioned containment booms to isolate the spill source and prevent oil from spreading further; while also cordoning off the area to prevent injuries to people and fire from any possible ignition source.
“It also called in Boots and Coots, a well disaster management company, from the US, to cap the pressure and stop further spill.
“Clean Nigeria Associates (CNA) was also engaged to contain and recover the oil as well as manage and protect the immediate environment.
“The company has continually updated the NUPRC on-site conditions and their action steps.
“On receipt of reports of the incident by the Commission, our field operations team were promptly mobilised and are currently on ground for regulatory oversight assessment to determine probable cause(s) and to ensure all response actions are the most appropriate and effective to return normalcy in the shortest possible time”.
Engr. Komolafe added that “apart from checking to confirm that the company is carrying out the necessary response measures to contain the situation, the Commission has made its officials available to participate in containment procedures that are considered safe by the experts at this moment. Initial spill report has been received and appropriately reviewed and documented while updates are received diligently”.