The National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) on Sunday said a major oil leak in Nigeria’s Niger Delta is yet to be contained for about 10 days now.
The leak is said to have occurred on November 5 at an oil well within Oil Mining Lease (OML) 29, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
NAN reported that NOSDRA officials, who were deployed to ascertain the cause and estimated volume of crude discharged into the environment, could not conduct the investigation while the leak was still on.
In an update, the Director-General of NOSDRA, Idris Musa, told NAN that the leak was yet to be plugged as of Sunday, adding that the intensity of the leak was hampering investigations at the incident site.
On whether the leak has been capped, the NOSDRA boss said: “Not yet, the Clean Nigeria Associates (CNA), an alliance of all oil firms operating in the country, has been called to beef up oil recovery.
“That effort is to reduce the ultimate risk and lessen the impact on the environment,” Mr Musa said.
He said that following the inability of the indigenous operator of OML 29, Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Exploration Company, to stop the leak, it was definite that international help would be sought to block the leakage.
On the category of the spill incident, which ranges from tier I, II and III, where I is a leak within an operator’s control and II requiring intervention across the industry and III of international magnitude, Mr Musa said the incident could not yet be classified as a tier II spill.
“It is not yet tier II, but we are already prepared in anticipation.
“CNA can start work today,” the NOSDRA Director-General said.
Aiteo had, in a statement on Wednesday, said it has yet to ascertain the volume of the crude that had been discharged into the environment.
The statement signed by the company’s spokesperson, Mathew Ndianabasi, also said the oil firm suspected sabotage as the cause of the spill.
He said the company was mobilising local and international know-how to contain the incident.
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Aiteo acquired OML 29 from Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria in 2015 at $1.7 billion, according to The Nation newspaper.
OML 29 is said to contain 11 oil and gas fields which stretches over an area of 983 square kilometres and has a 100 kilometre-pipeline with a capacity of 600,000 barrels per day.
Oil spills and other forms of environmental pollution remain one of the major problems associated with oil exploitation in the Niger Delta region.