Nembe oil spill: Leaking wellhead to be contained in few days – Aiteo
Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company (AEEPCO) has stated that its leaking wellhead in the Santa Barbara South field, Nembe LGA, Bayelsa state will be fully contained in a few days.
Recall that the oil mining lease (OML) 29 wellhead in Santa Barbara South field had blown on November 5, and since then, it had been spewing oil into water bodies.
It is jointly owned by AEEPCO and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
During a tour of the facility with journalists on Thursday, Andrew Onu, Aiteo’s global group director/coordinator, said the wellhead is being pumped with chemicals to contain further leakage in “one or two days”.
He explained that the spill had already been contained substantially.
He said that the spill was of a special type — a gas blowout — which involved 80 percent gas and 20 percent oil.
According to NAN report, during the tour, which took both dimensions — helicopter view and patrol boats along the waterways around the vicinity — it was easily observed that the oil spillage was minimal as it was effectively contained.
According to Oru, this is contrary to the impression that the entire environment has been seriously polluted.
The Bayelsa government had said that about two million barrels of crude had reportedly been spilled into the river, polluting the environment, thereby affecting biodiversity.
He described as “spurious” claims that the leak spilled two million barrels of oil into the creeks, explaining that the well’s production capacity, including its total reserves, was nowhere near two million barrels.
“The talk of two million barrels of oil spilling from the well is spurious. Two million barrels is about two supertankers. The oil would have spread over the entire country,” NAN quoted Oru as saying.
“The reserve of the well itself is nowhere near two million barrels.”
Oru assured the people of the Nembe community that everything was being done to prevent humanitarian or ecological disasters.
“I can tell you authoritatively that the pressure of the well has been substantially diminished already because all the chemicals needed to put the pressure under control are being fed in continuously and the pressure has started going down,” he said.
“This spill is a special type. It’s not just an oil spill, it’s a gas blowout, for whatever reason. There are two stages in containing it. The first one is to stop the gas leakage while the second is to fill the well.
“It is the gas leakage that engenders and creates room for some droplets of oil to escape with gas.
“The well is a gas well, 80 percent gas, and about 20 percent oil; that is why it is relatively easy for us to contain the amount of oil that spills out.
“Ordinarily, if what is coming out now was oil, I can imagine that we will be needing Noah’s Ark by now.”
He noted that the heavy vegetation of the area by which oxygen was emitted in large quantities and which flowed freely as well had also helped to absorb gaseous emissions.
“Critically, the pressure of the gas that is coming out has been almost completely extinguished and in one or two days maximum, I believe we will proceed further to begin the well-kill process,” Oru added.
Meanwhile, the company donated five truckloads of palliatives, including food and medical supplies to the Nembe community.
The items, received by the community’s leaders, were stored in the Opu Nembe Town Hall for onward distribution to fishing communities directly affected by the spill.