Oil spill: Eroton blames sabotage, empathises with affected community

Eroton Exploration and Production Company Limited has condemned the vandalisation of its oil assets in the Niger Delta and empathised with oil spill-affected communities.

The indigenous oil & gas company on Tuesday stated its commitment to promoting professional and responsible oil field practices with the protection of its operational environment at the core of its values.

Eroton is one of Nigeria’s foremost indigenous Oil & Gas Companies. It is the Operator of OML 18 on behalf of the NNPC/Eroton/Sahara Joint Venture.

According to the release signed by Mercy Max-Ebibai, Head External Affairs and Corporate Communications, Eroton, this comes in the wake of a recent oil spill incident that occurred on June 15, 2022, from Cawthorne Channel Well 15 Wellhead (CAWC015L/S) in one of its areas of operation, CAWC015L/S is a dual string well which started production in May 1977.

The incident is attributed to sabotage from unknown persons, as the short string has been shut-in since 1988 due to High Gas Oil Ratio (HGOR), while the long string watered out and quit in 1991.

Max-Ebibai informed reporters that a preliminary Joint Investigative Visit (JIV) found that the entire valves on the Christmas Tree, and wellhead accessories (such as the control valves, tree caps, etc.) were removed.
She said: “The vandals also removed the Well platform and gangway making it more complicated to intervene on the flowing well.

“The removal of the platform means our technicians have nothing to stand on in attempting to control the unplanned flow as the well is standing at about 30 feet above sea level.

“On inspection by our team of Engineers and Service Contractors (marred by poor visibility from crude flow and height), it was observed that the crude oil leak is most likely from three (3) points: the Well Christmas Tree Cap, Swab, and Wing Valves, which were carted away by the vandals,” she said.
Eroton further confirmed that all regulatory obligations have been adhered to with the relevant authorities duly notified within the allowed window.

“This includes the statutory Form A to NOSDRA, NUPRC, NNPC, and other JV partners, the Ministry of Environment, and the principal representatives of the respective Community Development Boards (CDB).

“Representatives of these stakeholders also partook in the preliminary JIV,” the company said.

In addition, Eroton said that oil spill containment activities have continued despite challenges like tidal change.

“The containment booms have been deployed and reinforced to contain the spill spread.

“Oil recovery has commenced with the mechanical skimming of free phase oil, whilst a Wild Well Control vendor and our Engineers are being deployed to the site to establish Well Control across all the flowing points on the Christmas Tree with a view to getting the well under control.

“Construction of a platform which would be installed around the flowing well to provide a standing point at height for the intervention technicians is currently in progress,” Eroton said.

Also, Max-Ebibai highlighted that the company is proactively reprioritising its security architecture to ensure additional measures in the monitoring of these vulnerable sites, to minimise potential vandalism and spill incidents such as this in the future.

She empathised with the affected Host Communities and confirmed plans for a conclusive JIV to be held immediately after the containment, to estimate spill volume and Environmental Impact.
Furthermore, she highlighted that in line with Erotons tradition of fostering the subsisting good relationship with their host communities, the company will find a middle ground to alleviate the impact of this unfortunate spill, irrespective of the fact that “compensations are not paid for well vandalisation and sabotage incidents.”

“A Clean-up exercise following the planned JIV will also be concluded in the shortest possible time with all safety precautions and observance from all stakeholders,” the release said.

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