Environmentalists indict Agip over oil spills

By Samuel Oyadongha

Yenagoa — Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, ERA/FoE, yesterday, accused Nigerian Agip Oil Company of alleged negligence in its operations with an alarming rate of leakages from its pipeline on the Taylor Creek area of Ikarama community in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.

Agip, Monday, shut down its activities in the swamp area oil fields in the state, from which it produced about 40,000 barrels of crude oil daily, citing a growing wave of illegal oil bunkering.

The oil firm, in a statement, claimed that it was losing about 7,000 barrels of its crude production daily to oil thieves in Bayelsa, a development it described as unsustainable.

But Field Monitors of ERA/FoE, led by the Bayelsa State Coordinator, Mr. Alagoa Morris, in the report, yesterday,  at the end of the tour of spill sites in Ikarama community, said, though high incidence of oil spill in Bayelsa State involved two major oil companies, Shell Petroleum Development Company  and Agip, the recent cases of oil spillages in the communities, including Ikarama, occurred from Agip’s Taylor Creek Wellhead A on the company’s pipeline.

The report said: “The recent spillages are disturbing as the incidents lead to further degradation of the environment and may even point to the existence of conflict.

“Due to constant oil spills, this community had recorded more deaths and sicknesses than any other community in Okordia clan, because sometimes, we inhaled the pollutants. Apart from that, the burning of oil spill impacted sites is another problem. When spills occur rather than them coming to clean up the impacted environment, they prefer to set such sites ablaze.”

On the recent oil spill recorded in Ikarama community, the group said that its investigation into the reported spillage showed that it occurred at two points close to Agip’s Taylor Creek Well A.

“The sound was deafening, crude oil escaping in gaseous form from a slit on the oil bearing pipe. Between this spill point and the next spill point was the Taylor Creek Wellhead A.  And while the distance from this first spill point to the wellhead was about a 100 meters, between the Wellhead and the second spill point was about 250 metres apart.”

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