ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, Yenagoa
Environmental Right Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has implored the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) to clean and maintain its Right of Way (RoW) at Elebele in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
The group’s call was contained in a field report released by ERA/FoEN’s Head of Bayelsa office, Mr Alagoa Morris, on the gas leak incident that occurred in the community’s environment on May 16, 2021.
The incident was believed to have been caused by vandals who took advantage of the bushy RoW to carry out their criminal acts.
It was learnt that the gas leak releases a particular offensive odour which saturates the air around Elebele and neighbouring communities.
The development is said to have caused panic among residents of the area who feared an outbreak or an epidemic had happened.
The group expressed worry that the inability of SPDC to clear grasses and shrubs around the facility in Elebele had left the RoW bushy and untidy, adding that such a situation could provide cover for vandals to breach pipelines.
ERA stated: “At the Elebele gas leak site, ERA/FoEN monitor was surprised to know that such oil/gas-bearing pipelines are laid along that stretch of land.
“With the pipeline having overgrown shrubs and grasses, only those who actually know the exact spots the oil/gas pipeline was laid could trace and dig the real spots and execute their mission, aided by bushy environment for cover.
“And according to one of those who led ERA/FoEN to the site, the pipes on this pipeline were replaced no too long ago, meaning they are new pipes. That the signs of digging were very obvious and the incident happened in the afternoon, is a testimony that the vandals took advantage of the bushy environment to perpetrate the act.”
Supporting ERA, an indigene of the community, Godfrey Obi, appealed to SPDC to take the maintenance of the RoW seriously.
Obi stated: “Actually, our demand as a community is that the SPDC should put an eye on their facility. You can imagine where a Shell pipeline is passing and there is no contractor clearing the line, no surveillance contractor that is taking care of the line.
“What actually happened (the gas leak) was a threat to human life because tricycles, motorcycles and vehicles are plying this road. And you can imagine what could have happened if there was a little spark. So, we are calling on the SPDC to engage surveillance contractor and someone who will be clearing the pipeline to scare away vandals.”