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Niger Delta: Expert warns as abandoned oil facilities litter communities

The rising concern over abandoned oil wells and derelict infrastructure in the Niger Delta, particularly in areas like Akwa Ibom State and Oloibiri in Bayelsa State, highlights significant environmental and health hazards. The Niger Delta region, characterized by its extensive mangrove forests and diverse ecosystems, has been severely impacted by oil spillage and pollution.informationguidenigeria

Most of the oil infrastructure in the region is old and lacks regular inspection or maintenance, leading to corrosion and accidents that account for a significant number of oil spills.

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Sabotage and theft through oil siphoning have also contributed to environmental degradation. This illegal activity not only causes damage to pipelines but has become a lucrative black market business, increasing the risk of oil spills. Furthermore, weak Nigerian regulations of the oil industry, which are rarely enforced, have allowed the industry to operate with little oversight.

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Oil spillage has devastated ecosystems, destroyed mangroves, contaminated soil and groundwater, and caused the death of aquatic life. The spills also have dire consequences for local communities, leading to health issues like breathing problems and skin lesions, and the loss of livelihoods.

In response to these challenges, the Nigerian government, with recommendations from the United Nations, launched a $1 billion cleanup and restoration program in 2017. However, the complexity and extent of the damage mean that a complete reversal of the environmental impact could take over 30 years.JAMB Portal

According to him, “There are several wellheads, manifolds, flow stations, and pipelines that ought to be decommissioned and removed from communities across the Niger Delta region by the IOCs and the NNPC.

“These derelict facilities constitute ecosystem impacts, groundwater contamination and threaten human health.

“Nigerian laws and regulations require proper decommissioning and removal of all unused oil facilities according to best international standards. These requirements are often ignored.”

Bassey, however, described the situation as time bombs that have already started to explode, citing the blow of Aiteo’s Nembe/Santa Barbara Well-1 in the Santa Barbara River, in OML 29 (Bayelsa State).

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“The Santa Barbara blow raged for 39 days, and official/industry estimate was that less than 5,000 barrels were spilled.

“But independent experts estimated that over 500,000 barrels of hydrocarbon fluids, gas and oil were spilled in the monumental incident,” he added.NYSC Portal

He also cited the aged Trinity Spirit FSPO that exploded and sank in February 2022, noting that numerous well-head leaks have been recorded across the region.

He further mentioned the ignored “Ororo-1 well Fire in Ondo state in shallow water Oil Mining Lease (OML) 95 and demanded that the fire should be extinguished.

“The Ororo-1 well has a long and chequered history. This oil well was first drilled by Chevron Corporation but was shut off in the 1980s with a steel plug due to pressure issues, according to reports.

“The well was awarded as a marginal field to Guarantee Petroleum and its partner, Owena Oil & Gas Ltd (an Ondo State company) in 2003 but the award was allegedly revoked in 2019 because the company had not developed and brought the field to full production before expiration of an extension period that elapsed in April 2019.

“Owena Oil & Gas Ltd filed a lawsuit against the DPR over the revocation.

“Interestingly, the well was re-entered by the new ‘owners’ in 2020 and the horrific blowout occurred on 15 May, 2020.

“Note that the well was re-entered decades after it had been plugged by Chevron. The Nigerian government effectively took ownership of (controlling) the fire since it had revoked the rights of Guarantee Petroleum to the field by the time of the disaster.

“Experts suspect that the blow out occurred due to a sudden rush of hydrocarbons under high pressure and the failure of both the Blow Out Preventer (BOP) for the main well and the BOP between the pipe and the skin of the well.

“The blow out which occurred on the Hydraulic Workover rig (Grace-1 HWU) hired by Guarantee Petroleum has been accompanied by oil spill and a constant inferno since the blow out.”

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Emediong Silver

Emediong Ekpe is a graduate of English. A professional Sports journalist/analyst, and a spoken word artist. He is passionate about decimating information and putting smiles on people's faces via news writing. Whatapp: 08088735884

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