By Adewale Sanyaolu
The National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) has indicted the Nigerian Petroleum Upstream Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), formerly Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) for failing to nip the Nembe oil spill in the bud.
On November 5, 2021, Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company (AEEPCO) operator of the NNPC/Aiteo Joint Venture Oil Mining Lease(OML) 45 reported a hydrocarbon wellhead leak in its Santa Barbara Southwest field, in Nembe Local Government of Bayelsa State.
But three weeks after the reported leak, containment of the spill is yet to be achieved as at yesterday.
The development has further put a strain on the economic livelihood of the over 45 impacted communities as fishing and farming activities have been brought to a halt.
Speaking yesterday during a live interview on Arise Television programme, The Morning Show, Director General of NOSDRA, Mr. Idris Musa, said failure of NUPRC to decommission all abandoned wellheads across the country, including that of Oil Mining Lease(OML) 45 operated by AEEPCO lead to the current oil spill.
But, NUPRC said it has outlined action plans to deal with the recent oil spill in Santa Barbara, Nembe, Bayelsa at an Aiteo facility, as investigations into the cause(s) of the spill continue by the Commission.
The NOSDRA DG said it had on a number of occasions interfaced with NUPRC on the need to decommission all abandoned well heads, saying despite the interface, there are still several of such dotting all disused oil fields.
He noted that there was the need for NUPRC to carry out an audit of all abandoned well heads, as the incidence of the current one spilling oil in Nembe is at the middle of the creek.
Musa explained that the decommissioning of well heads is strictly within the mandate of NUPRC and not that of NOSDRA.