From Chinwendu Obioha
Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company (AEEPCO), the operator of the NNPC/Aiteo Joint Venture of Oil Mining Lease (OML), has disclosed its position on the recent hydrocarbon wellhead leak in its Santa Barbara, South West field, in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
In a statement by Ndiana Matthew on behalf of Aiteo, the company stated that an accurate cause of the leak has not been ascertained as both priority and attention has been focused on containing the consequences to forestall future occurrences.
The statement reads:
‘Immediately upon noticing the leak, Aiteo notified all relevant regulatory agencies and thereafter mobilized containment resources to limit the impact on the environment. As required, Aiteo promptly called for a Joint Inspection Visit (JIV). Due to the high-pressure effusion, the JIV team could not reach the location and that inspection was aborted.
‘Since then, Aiteo has activated an elaborate and extensive spillage containment response in the internationally prescribed manner. Though spills of this nature are not uncommon to the oil and gas industry, their resolution requires expert skill and equipment that are not routinely or readily available.
‘The typical process is to first kill the well and stop the leak and then focus on the clean-up. Aside from urgent possible technical responses to contain the leak, Aiteo has sought, become involved with and is now in active collaboration with Clean Nigeria Associates (CNA) that have since mobilized to site, in addition to Aiteo internal resources to reinforce containment and recovery efforts. CNA is the industry non-profit umbrella body with expertise and resource to contain spills of this nature. In the meantime, however, the area has been cordoned off and CNA is mobilizing additional resources to strengthen the containment effort.
‘Well killing assessment site visit has been carried out to evaluate the assets and earmark the resources required to bring the effusion under control. The required apparatus including heavy-duty and specialist equipment are presently being mobilized, locally and internationally, on a fast-track basis, to bring the well under control. For this purpose, Aiteo has on-boarded the involvement of the renowned, Boots & Coots, arguably the leading well control company in the world, working with a local resource. Upon this intervention and conclusion, it is expected that the persistence of the leak alongside its functional consequences will be abated and significantly diminished.’
The firm added that Aiteo senior personnel have also visited the affected communities and made available, for the use of the communities, relief materials aimed at ameliorating the direct consequences of the incident.
The communities visited include the Opu-Nembe Kingdom, where the Aiteo delegation was received by the King His Royal Majesty, Dr Biobelemoye Josiah Ogbodo VIII, his council of chiefs and all sections of the society. He noted in his remarks that ‘…we are happy that Aiteo has initiated this visit to support the community at this time and urge them to continue to work with us as partners in progress on its corporate goals in the community.’
‘The Aiteo Group CEO, Mr Benedict Peters, has extended his assurances to the affected communities and, in his words, confirmed that ‘…we are doing everything in our power to contain this spill and ameliorate the situation as rapidly, safely and responsibly as possible. We have mobilized best-in-class resources and expertise to put this mishap behind us. Be rest assured of our resolve to limit the escape of oil and protect the ecosystem from its effects.
‘As we commend the relevant security agencies with whom we interface to combat this menace, we believe the need and capacity to provide significantly more remain overwhelmingly critical especially because there is so much more to be done to realign the architecture of the delivery infrastructure of oil and gas production in Nigeria in line with the current industry structure of multiple producers operating assets that were previously built and managed by one producer.
‘Aiteo feels deeply concerned about the occurrence of the incident at all,’ it added