By Nathan Nwakamma
Aiteo Exploration Ltd, operator of the 97 kilometre Nembe Creek Trunk Line (NCTL), has confirmed there is no loss of life in Friday’s explosion on the crude export pipeline.
Aiteo officials said that the fire from the explosion, which burned till Saturday, had been put out without loss of life.
The NCTL situation, with a capacity of conveying 150,000 barrels of crude daily to the Bonny oil export terminal, will adversely affect crude export, having been put out of use.
A Public Relations Manager of Aiteo, Mr Ndiana-Abasi Mathew, confirmed the incident in a phone message on Saturday.
“There is no official statement at the moment but I can gladly inform you that the fire has been contained and no lives were lost,” Mathew said.
The oil export line was shut for emergency repairs following a leak when the incident occurred and discharged residual crude and gas trapped in the pipeline.
Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), in 2015, divested its equity in OML 29 and transferred its interest in NCTL for $1.7 bn to Aiteo, an indigenous Oil and Gas Exploration and Production firm.
Community sources at Nembe in Bayelsa have bemoaned negative impact of the explosion, saying that the incident led to both gas leakage and oil spill, compelling them to flee.
Spokesperson of the Nembe Chiefs Council, Chief Nengi James–Eriworio, who confirmed the development, said the explosion caused massive destruction of the area with air and water heavily polluted.
“People have deserted the area and the company has refused to respond in spite of series of emergency calls to report the incident to them
“As at early morning of Saturday, the fire is still raging. And with gas and crude leak flowing freely, you can then imagine the fate of our people.
“The poor response of Aiteo to this incident is not acceptable and questionable. The people are traumatised and their health put at risk ” James-Eriworio said.
Accoring to him, oil leak from the line has covered the surface of the nearby river, making it unsafe for navigation and artisanal fishing vocation of the people.
James-Eriworio also appealed to the Federal Government and oil industry regulatory agencies to intervene and investigate and respond, to salvage the people.
“We are concerned that Aiteo, despite the clandestine acquisition of the asset from SPDC without due consultation with the people, has continued to undermine the economic rights of the people.
“We are worried about the poor response and attitude of the company towards the host communities in Nembe.
“They have abused the rights of the people. We are ready to drag the company before the National Assembly and the Presidency,” James-Eriworio, said.
The explosion, which occurred at about 4 a.m. on Friday near Oil Well 7, sacked members of the affected communities.
The Nembe communities affected include Nembe creek 1, 2 and 3, Jalungo, Fatuo and Kalablomi in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa. (NAN)