From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
An International Oil spill advisor and Marine Conservation Biologist, Prof Richard Steiner has slammed Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company (AEEPCO), operator of the NNPC /Aiteo Joint Venture of Oil Mining Lease (OML) 29 for the Oil Spill that has ravaged Opu Nembe in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
Steiner who was recently appointed technical advisor to Ijaws in Diaspora on the Nembe Oil spill speaking in an interview on Arise Television programme, The Morning Show said Aiteo should have taken immediate steps to stop the blow out as it occurred.
“Aiteo and NNPC as co- partners of the well should have been able to prevent this happening. They should have a well integrity programme in place, inspecting the well regularly and filing reports with the Department of Petroleum Resources as required by Nigerian law. They should have global practise standards in place for the well making sure it is up to standard as required by Nigerian law. And they should have immediate well care capability ready to go in the event of a catastrophe blow out like this. Obviously they didn’t. There are a number of components why I consider it recklessness and gross negligence on the part of the company. And this is not just finger pointing it is just the fact. The company had a duty, a legal standard duty to be able to respond and kill the blowout immediately and it has not been able to do it. It has been three weeks since the high pressure blow out.”
Steiner who admitted that Boots and Coots, one of the companies hired by Aiteo to help in stopping the blowout and the containment of the oil is capable however noted that the Federal Government should seize the opportunity presented by the Nembe Oil spill to ensure oil companies operating in the Niger Delta conform to global best practises.
“Out of the Nembe spill, I would encourage the Federal Government to think big and look at the global arbitration settlement to compel all the oil companies operating in the Delta over the years to come to the table with the Federal Government, State Government and the affected people and agree with an independent arbitrator to provide just compensation for past several decades of damages. Secondly, within the compensation provides the local communities a share of the revenue of oil and gas in the region. Then bring all the oil infrastructure- wells, pipes, flow stations to best global practises and standards. All these are in the Nigeria law. The problem is that the Nigerian Government has not really enforced it. This is an opportunity for the government to show that it is concerned about doing its job which is to cater for looking out for the welfare of the citizens.”