The National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), and environmentalists have expressed concern over the impact of the operations of Conoil Producing Limited on the Bayelsa environment.
The stakeholders expressed worry over insensitivity of the indigenous oil firm towards the sustenance of the environment where it operates, saying it is yet to respond to an undersea leak from its oilfield in Bayelsa since September 3 , 2020.
Director-General of NOSDRA,Idris Musa, had confirmed the incident on December 2, 2020, and subsequently berated the company for operating in breach of regulatory guidelines.
The agency noted that the oil firm was in the habit of causing avoidable spills and had been sanctioned for degrading the environment.
“This oil company has been spilling oil for a period of time now. And we just got this report, from what we found it is from an underwater pipeline under pressure creating bubbles on the water surface.
“All the directives given to it to contain the oil spill, shut down and replace the leaking pipeline near shore in Sangana, Bayelsa State fell into deaf ears.
“The agency sanctioned the company for this untoward act, but nothing has changed. The leakage continues and the oil company behaves irresponsibly even though it is a Nigerian Oil Company,” Musa said.
It was learned that the leak emanated from Conoils’s facility known as ‘Aunty Julie platform’ within Oil Mining Lease 59, at Otuo Oilfield.
According to information on Conoil Producing Limited’s website, the facility, a mobile offshore production unit commissioned in 1999 has capacity to produce 80,000 barrels of crude daily.
Also, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) says it is disturbed by the unsafe environmental practices at an offshore oilfield operated by Conoil, an indegenous oil firm.
According to the Non Government Organisation (NGO), the posture of the oil firm despite regulatory sanctions leaves more to be desired as the adverse impact of the operation is borne by host communities.
ERA/FoEN, an Environmental rights group, in a field report, noted that Conoil Plc has yet to respond to an oil spill from its facility.
The report said that several communities near the oil facility in Akassa Kingdom environment in the Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa are affected by the leak four months after the incident.
The report was signed by Alagoa Morris Head, ERA/FoEN Niger Delta Resource Centre , Yenagoa, Bayelsa state.
According to the report, the incident occurred at the indigenous oil firm’s Otuo Field Well 13 on September 3, 2020.
The ERA/FoEN report indicated that the leak was yet to be plugged and spilled crude was still spreading and polluting Akassa and coastal communities along the Atlantic shoreline.
The report quoted the Chairman, United Fishing Union of Sangana, Ikonikumo Noel, as lamenting that the spill had wiped out generations of fishes as well as adversely affected aquatic lives that constitute the food chain.
“The oil spill happened on Sept. 3, 2020. We have been looking for a way for Conoil to, at least, shut down the facility so that the effect would not come to us.
“Fishes are dying in Sangana coastline seriously. But the company doesn’t pay any attention.” Noel said.
The group also quoted the Akassa Clan Youth Presidents’ Forum to have in a letter dated September 18, 2020 reported the incident to the office of the state Commissioner for Environment, but no action had been taken.
According to our Correspondent, all efforts to get the reaction of the oil firm by e-mail, short message services and unanswered telephone calls to officials of the oil firm proved abortive at press time.
Also, Mr Abiodun Azeez, Media Relations Manager at Conoil Production declined comments on the allegations of flouting regulatory guidelines on oil spills by NOSDRA