By Udeme Akpan, Energy Editor,
Eroton Exploration and Production Company Limited, an indigenous oil and gas producing company, has condemned vandalism and oil theft in the Niger Delta.
The company, which expressed its commitment to promoting professional and responsible oil field practices, said the Cawthorne Channel Well 15 Wellhead (CAWC015L/S) oil spill that occurred on June 15, 2022, was caused by unknown vandals.
In a statement obtained by Energy Vanguard, the company’s spokesperson, Mercy Max-Ebibai (Head External Affairs and Corporate Communications), stated: “The incident is attributed to sabotage from unknown persons, as the short string has been shut in since 1988 due to High Gas Oil Ratio (HGOR), while the long string watered out and quit in 1991.
“A preliminary Joint Investigative Visit (JIV) found that the entire valves on the Christmas Tree, wellhead accessories (such as the control valves, tree caps, etc.) were removed.
“The vandals removed the well platform and gangway, making it more complicated to intervene on the flowing well. The removal of the platform means our technicians have nothing to stand on in attempting to control the unplanned flow as the well is standing at about 30 feet above sea level. On inspection by our team of Engineers and Service Contractors (marred by poor visibility from crude flow and height), it was observed that the crude oil leak is most likely from three (3) points: the Well Christmas Tree Cap, Swab and Wing Valves, which were carted away by the vandals.
“Eroton also confirmed that all regulatory obligations have been adhered to, with the relevant authorities duly notified within the allowed window. This includes the statutory Form A to NOSDRA, NUPRC, NNPC and other JV partners, the Ministry of Environment and the principal representatives of the respective Community Development Boards (CDB). Representatives of these stakeholders also partook in the preliminary JIV.
“Despite challenges like tidal change, oil spill containment activities have continued in earnest. The containment booms have been deployed and reinforced to contain the spill spread. Oil recovery has commenced with the mechanical skimming of free phase oil, whilst a Wild Well Control vendor and our Engineers are being deployed to site to establish Well Control across all the flowing points on the Christmas Tree with a view to get the well under control. Construction of a platform which would be installed around the flowing well to provide a standing point at height for the intervention technicians is currently in progress.”
Max-Ebibai also disclosed that, “The Company is proactively re-prioritizing its security architecture to ensure additional measures in the monitoring of these vulnerable sites, to minimize vandalism and spill incidents in the future.
“Empathizing with the affected host communities, the company spokesperson confirmed plans for a conclusive JIV to be held immediately after the containment, to estimate spill volume and Environmental Impact.
Furthermore, she highlighted that, ‘’In line with Eroton’s tradition of fostering the subsisting good relationship with our host communities, the company will find a middle ground to alleviate the impact of this unfortunate spill, irrespective of the fact that compensations are not paid for well vandalization and sabotage incidents.”
According to her, a clean-up will also be concluded as soon as possible with all safety precautions and observance of all stakeholders.