By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja

House of Representatives had mandated its Committees on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) and Environment to investigate the actual cause of the oil leaks at OML 18, OML 29 and OML 63 and abandoned wells in Niger Delta.

The Committees were also saddled with the responsibility of determining the magnitude, scope, and effect of the leaks on affected host communities, examine the scope and liability for required relief and compensation, inquire the nature and details of the JV agreement between Aiteo and NNPC to determine veracity of ownership of percentage stake and financial obligations and as well confirm the claim by Aiteo of engagement of a foreign company to stop the leak, the cost of doing so and the financial claim made by Aiteo to NAPIMS in this regard. 

The mandate was sequel to the consideration of a motion of under matters or urgent public importance moved at Wednesday plenary by Hon. Ibrahim Isiaka.

Isiaka in his motion said he was jolted by the confirmation by the National Oil Spill Detection Agency (NOSDRA) on Saturday 25 June 2022 of a weeklong spill.

He said: “The oil leak is from Cawthorne Channel Well 15; an idle and isolated well on Oil Mining Lease (OML) 18. A large oil bloc located towards the south of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, operated by Eroton Exploration and Production Limited which has 45% stake in a Joint Venture (JV) agreement with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited atter Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) divested her interest in the bloc, in 2015. Informed that the Corporate Communications Lead of Eroton reported an oil leak. which eventually resulted to a blowout of crude oil and gas into the environment on 15th June, 2022. Whereas, NOSDRA’s only reported the incident on 23rd June 2022 (10 days thereafter). 

“Aiteo Group, operator of another JV with NNPC, also reported an oil leak from its idle and isolated Santa Barbara oil well head 1 on OML 29 in Nembe Local Government Area (LGA) of Bayelsa State on 5th November, 2021. The leak, which persisted for 32 days, was alleged to have spilled hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude in the Santa Barbara River and its tributaries, which traverse three kingdoms in Bayelsa State destroying sources of drinking water, fishing and farming ecosystem. Over six months later, the cause of the oil leak on OML 29 is still unknown. Like OML 29, the unending phenomenon surrounding the current spill on OML 18 has not been conducted about 2 weeks after the occurrence.

“The NAOC oil spill at OML 63 in Lasukugbena, Bayelsa State, which lasted over one month, yet the root cause analyses has not been officially determined till date. Curious about the postulation by industry professionals that in the light of current dwindling crude oil production output in Nigeria, up to 800,000 barrels of residual crude oil deposits can be obtained from idle and isolated wells across different oil fields in the country with huge economic benefit ta the country, similar to several oil producing countries around the world who have consciously developed a strategy in this regard”.

Adopting the motion, the House also asked the committees to ascertain the numbers of idle and isolated wells currently existing on Aiteo, Eroton and other indigenous and international oil companies oil fields across Nigeria, the condition of these wells and the status of their management and abandonment in compliance with statutory provisions and international best practice.

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