From Kemi Yesufu and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Director of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Mordecai Ladan, yesterday, disclosed that a total of 2,418 oil spills occurred between 2010 and 2016 arising from the operations of Nigerian AGIP Oil Company (NAOC).
Speaking at an investigative hearing of the Nasiru Sule-Garo-led House of Representatives Adhoc Committee on Joint Task Force and NAOC Operations in the Niger Delta, Ladan said most of the spills recorded between 2012 to 2016 were attributed to “sabotage due to the agitation” in the region.
According to him, the DPR ensured that methodology and technologies appropriate for use in the Nigerian environment are deployed for spill clean up and remediation.
On the Azuzuama Community, Southern Ijaw LGA, Bayelsa State pipeline fire outbreak which led to the death of 14 people, the DPR Director, who was represented by Musa Zagi, explained that investigation by it showed the immediate cause of incident was “the introduction of an external ignition source by third party in the hydro-carbon charged vicinity.”
The inadequate security presence at the incident area to stop vandals was also identified as another cause for the deadly fire. This is as the DPR told the committee that NAOC was fined N9,571,855 for breach of regulatory processes related to the incident.
The House had on August 6, 2015, adopted a motion on the “Urgent Need to Bring an End to the Despoliation of the Niger Delta and Activities of Nigeria AGIP Oil Company that Led to the Death of 14 People in Azuzuama Community.”
But the committee expressed dissatisfaction on the presentation of the representatives of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
The Chief Security Officer of NIMASA, Collins Oladeinde, had told lawmakers he was at the hearing to observe proceedings as the agency was not the first respondent at oil spill locations.
In a swift response, Chairman of the committee said NIMASA had been written to make submission on the incident and should have long carried out preliminary investigation on the case.
Lawmakers from Bayelsa State, Fred Agbedi, and Diri Douye, equally accused NIMASA of insensitivity, saying the agency, as one of those involved in protecting the maritime environment, should have fully investigated the incident.
Also in his reaction, Deputy Minority Leader, Chukwuka Onyema, asked that the NIMASA representative be excused.
“We are not joking. We are not here to play. We are supposed to be considering the budget; many here have committee hearings and oversight functions, but we are here because of the number of people that were killed.
“We are telling you that whatever you have said here, we are not taking it. You are supposed to have made a submission. So, go and tell your Managing Director that we need a submission,” Onyema said.
Earlier, Speaker Yakubu Dogara, who declared the hearing open described the operations of illegal refineries in the Niger Delta as highly detrimental to the country on different fronts.
He argued that the refineries cannot be allowed to operate in the country because their operators steal crude oil, reducing the national income just as their operations have led to environmental degradation. The Speaker was represented by the Deputy Minority Leader.
“Illegal oil refineries in Nigeria thrive on illegal oil bunkering, stolen crude oil and vandalism of oil pipelines and other installations. Without a doubt, these illegal oil operations are reprehensible and should not be condoned for a number of reasons.
“First, it is improper for citizens to destroy oil installations in their bid to steal crude oil as feedstock for illegal refineries. Secondly, it is most inappropriate for anybody, Nigerians or foreigners, to steal crude oil belonging to the Nigerian State with impunity.
“Thirdly, there are serious environmental issues involved, regardless of whether they dump the residue from the crude oil distillation process into the river or simply incinerate it,” the Speaker said.
Dogara expressed condolences to the families of the 14 people that Azuzuama, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, lost saying, “as representatives of the people, our hearts go out to them.”