BusinessDay

Nembe oil spill: Aiteo victim of smear campaign – Arewa youth president

The president, Arewa Consultative Youth Movement and Convener Association of Northern Youth Groups, Mallam Kabiru Yusuf has condemned the politicisation of the recent oil spill in Nembe, Bayelsa State.

He reasoned that “several forces” appear to be behind recent exaggerations of the spill and smear campaigns against Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company (AEEPCO), which jointly owns the well with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Yusuf noted that several people without any technical knowledge of oil exploration operations had been making false authoritative comments on the matter in a bid to distort the situation on the ground.

He said: “The OML 29 Well 1 platform, which is operated by Nigeria’s largest indigenous oil firm, Aiteo Exploration and Production Company Limited (AEEPCO), a JV with the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) experienced a wellhead gas/crude blowout.

“On November 5, AEEPCO reported a major oil leak from its Oil Mining Lease (OML) 29, the Santa Barbara South field, in Nembe, Bayelsa State from a blowout which was spewing oil into the immediate water bodies and contiguous communities and fumes in the air. Following available information, the well in question is a non-producing well in respect of which no production had taken place before 2015 when the company assumed operatorship.

“Aware that the spill situation was time-sensitive and rightly so, Aiteo activated technical containment measures and quickly invited highly competent foreign-based technical experts with experience of managing emergencies of this nature to help arrest the situation.

“The firm has since mobilized to ground zero and has fully deployed measures to contain the leak including an effective fast-track spill recovery programme. In addition to this has been high level, community targeted community-targeted measures that has been providing provide relief and health-related support to those immediately affected.”

He noted: “But for some wholly incomprehensible reasons, several forces have equally deployed their armaments to smear and damage not only the image of Aiteo but its quite considerable efforts.

“From peddling specious information that the spill has led to losses in excess off two million barrels, some have alleged that over 500,000 barrels were spilt, while some have suggested figure stupendous loss of some 200,000 daily.”

Yusuf, relying on experts’ views, noted that “This brand of speculative mumbo-jumbo continues to be circulated the fact that competent regulatory agencies exist that can provide the appropriate and correct information but are hardly approached to do so.

“To show the extent of mischief, few have asked how many barrels the well was producing prior to the blowout. Credible information confirms that before its shutdown prior to 2015, the well-produced about producing 700 barrels daily. In the light of this disclosure, it is simply incomprehensible that there can be any truth to the volumes being misleadingly bandied about.”

He lamented that even Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State who is not a petroleum engineer had been making impossible allegations on the spill.

Yusuf said: “Douye Diri is a 1990 Bachelor of Education and Political Science graduate from the University of Port Harcourt with no previous knowledge, experience, or involvement in either oil production or the environment. Yet he has manfully opined that the Nembe spill is worse than the Gulf of Mexico spill. From a person in authority of such elevation, this is extreme misinformation stemming from willful ignorance or dark motive.”

He lamented that all his efforts at reorganizing and reforming the crucial sector are being serially undermined by these forces whose motives are diabolical.”

He warned the forces to keep off, 8n the country’s interest

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