ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, YENAGOA
Environmentalists have expressed worries over the adverse impacts of the ongoing gas and oil leaks from Cawthorne Channel Well 15 within Oil Mining Lease (OML-18), operated by Eroton Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited.
The incident of June 15, 2022 has been discharging massive crude oil and gas under high pressure into the environment.
Commenting on the incident, Executive Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Dr Nnimmo Bassey, described the situation as a big blow on the biodiversity of the Niger Delta region.
Bassey, a renowned rights activist, regretted that respite had yet to come to the people as the leak had not been plugged yet.
He said the frequency of well-head blowouts was disturbing, adding that the Cawthorne Channel Well-15 wellhead appeared as dilapidated as that of Aiteo which erupted in Santa Barbara on November 5, 2021.
Bassey urged the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) to audit the integrity of oil facilities in the Niger Delta to stem the frequent eruptions which pollute the environment.
He also urged the government to develop a system that ensures that communities are consulted before multinational oil operators divest their assets and liabilities to other companies.
Bassey stated: “While the well blowout at Aiteo incident sprayed in two horizontal directions, this one is shooting into the sky and spraying horizontally to one side. The well-head also looks as decrepit as the one at Santa Barbara. These and other dilapidated well heads require urgent maintenance.
“NOSDRA ought to carry out a review of the state of the well heads across the Niger Delta to ensure that they don’t keep erupting and damaging the environment.
“The oil companies should also be required to secure their well heads and facilities to ensure they are out of reach of oil thieves and others.
“This incident is a horrible assault on the environment irrespective of what the cause of the incident may be. It shows that divestment exercise must not be done haphazardly.
“The government has to develop a system that ensures that communities are fully consulted before international oil companies sell their assets and liabilities to local companies.”
Also, Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC) expressed concern over yet another massive ongoing oil spill in the Niger Delta, less than six months after the November 2021 Aiteo spill in Nembe, Bayelsa.
The Executive Director of YEAC, Mr Dumnamene Fyneface, said the wellhead eruption was one too many, noting that it had destroyed water bodies, flora and fauna up to the Atlantic ocean considering the speed and volume of oil now spilling for weeks.
Fyneface charged NOSDRA, Eroton and all concerned authorities to quickly clamp the spill points, clean up the environment and adequately compensate the local people whose sources of water and livelihoods had been destroyed by the spillage.