An oil spill site in a field operated by Agip at Kalaba Community, Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa, has been engulfed by fire.
Chief Roman Orukali, the monarch of the community, while speaking on the incident on Tuesday in Yenagoa, said there was suspected foul play.
He noted that it took more than two weeks after the spill was reported for officials of Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) to convene a Joint Investigative Visit to the site.
“We suspect that the contractors hired for the clean-up job must have set the site ablaze to make the cleaning work easier for them, but we all know that this will damage the environment further.
“The way Agip is behaving is even worrisome; it seems Agip officials have a hand in this spill.
“We promptly informed them the same day the spill occurred but it is very surprising that Agip failed to take action.
“We made sure that they were given access so as to reduce the impact on our environment, but they delayed; now so much crude has extended into the environment,” he said.
He alleged that the nonchalant attitude of the oil firm on the environment has brought untold hardship to the community.
However, when contacted, officials of the oil firm declined comments on the fire.
An earlier statement from an Eni spokesperson indicated that a Joint Investigative Visit to the site by representatives of the community, regulators and NAOC concluded that three barrels of crude was discharged into the environment.
“Eni confirmed that on January 13 an oil spill occurred on the Taylor Creek flowline located in Yenagoa LGA, in the Bayelsa State,
“The Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) involved all Regulatory Agencies, members of the resident community and NAOC representatives.
It said the aim was to assess the causes and the impact on the environment, which was only possible on January 29, due to the denial of access by the community to the spill site before.
“The JIV report confirmed that the spill was due to sabotage, presumably for oil theft purposes.
“The report also confirmed a minor leakage of three barrels,” the statement said.