The federal regulatory agency, National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, has again waded into the lingering face-off between indigenes of oil-rich Ikarama community in Yenagoa Local Government Area, Bayelsa State and Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, over the oil spill. NDV recalls that the community and the oil giant have been at daggers drawn over the cause of spill at Okordia-Rumuekpe pipeline, November 12, 2019.
However, NOSDRA subjected a section of the contentious 14″ pipeline to third-party examination to resolve the dispute on the cause of the leak at the company’s oilfields in the area, but SPDC disagreed with the findings of a joint investigation of the spill incident, which had pointed at corrosion and rendered the investigation inconclusive.
The breached part of the pipe was cut out and taken to NOSDRA’s office where the spill agency reportedly deployed ultrasonic testing method, UTM, to scan and examine the pipe, but the results were not accepted by SPDC.
Director-General/Chief Executive Officer, NOSDRA, Mr Idris Musa, said: ”The matter is not resolved yet because we want to get an unbiased report on the cause of the spill whether it was due to corrosion or third party interference.”
“The agency insists that the UTM exercise be carried out so that we can all be assured of a very clear and technologically proven cause notwithstanding allegation of perceived ‘sweeping under the carpet’ by some quarters,” he said.
Why we rejected the outcome of initial examination – SPDC
Reacting to the development, Media Relations Manager, SPDC, Mr Bamidele Odugbesan, stated: “On 24th November 2019, we received a report of a leak on the 14” Okordia-Rumuekpe trunk line at Ikarama in Bayelsa state. The same day, we isolated the injecting facility and contained the spill to stop a spread.
In this case, not much oil was sighted at the incident site.” “The host community initially refused to grant site access to the JIV team, but eventually, a team of representatives of the host community, NOSDRA, Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment, and SPDC conducted a JIV on 28th and 29th November 2019.
“Though the team identified a leak suspected to be due to external interference with 6mm cut on the pipeline, the JIV Report (incident no. 2513692) was signed off by all representatives with an agreement for further investigation into the cause of the leak.
“The spool with the leak point was subsequently cut off in June 2020 and transferred to NOSDRA’s field office in Bayelsa State for examination. “This further investigation by the same JIV team re-examined the affected cut-out piece using SPDC’s Phased Array Ultrasonic Testing Technology on 16th July 2020 at NOSDRA’s office.
New investigation by qualified third party “The assessment team could not agree on the cause of the leak from the inspection data taken. But the team has agreed to and is implementing NOSDRA’s recommendation that an independent investigation be conducted by a certified third party,” he said.
Villagers threaten showdown with oil firm
Indigenes of Ikarama community had last week threatened a fresh showdown with SPDC over the disputed claims on causes of the crude oil spill.
The paramount ruler of Ikarama community, Chief Herbert Alfred and owners of properties impacted by the crude oil spillage at an interaction tagged “Resisting Regulatory Capture” organised by the Environmental Right Action/Friends of the Earth (ERA/FoEN), lamented that after series of correspondence to the management of the SPDC to own up and accept responsibility towards compensation and remediation failed, they have no choice but to shut down Shell facility in their domain.
Ikarama has the highest documented oil spills – ERA/FoEN
Meantime, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has listed Ikarama community as having the highest frequency of documented crude oil spills.
Acting Executive Director, ERA/FoEN, Chima Williams Esq., who was represented by the head Bayelsa Office, Comrade Alagoa Morris, said: “One of the main areas of disagreement between stakeholders in the oil industry is the cause of spill as a lot depends on it.
While there is nothing wrong in any stakeholder contesting whatever is declared as the cause of the spill, there are certain things to be considered in arriving at declaring the cause.”
“In the Nigeria oil industry, regulators are supposed to be referees. They are the NOSDRA and the State Ministries of Environment. From our record, the Ikarama community is the community with the highest frequency of documented oil spills, with most of the spills declared officially as caused by the third party interference by the regulators,” he said.