Indigenous Oil & Gas Company, Eroton Exploration and Production Company Limited has said the oil spill from its wellhead in the Niger Delta region was caused by activities of vandals around its facilities in the affected area.
Eroton, in a statement released by its spokesperson, Mercy Max-Ebibai in response to an oil spill incident that occurred on June 15, 2022 from Cawthorne Channel Well 15 Wellhead (CAWC015L/S) in one of its areas of operation, said Joint Investigative Visits (JIV) conducted by the company, showed that the entire valves on the Christmas Tree, wellhead accessories (such as the control valves, tree caps, etc.) were removed.
OML 18, operated by Eroton, produces and exports crude through the 97 kilometre Nembe Creek Trunkline (NCTL), and is located near the corridors of the export line in Rivers.
CAWC015L/S is a dual string well, which started production in May 1977.
“The incident is attributed to sabotage from unknown persons, as the short string has been shut-in since 1988 due to High Gas Oil Ratio (HGOR), while the long string watered out and quit in 1991,” said Max-Ebibai.
She added that “the vandals also removed the Well platform and gangway making it more complicated to intervene on the flowing well.”
The spokesperson further stated that, “The removal of the platform means our technicians have nothing to stand on in attempting to control the unplanned flow as the well is standing at about 30feet above sea level.
“On inspection by our team of Engineers and Service Contractors (marred by poor visibility from crude flow and height), it was observed that the crude oil leak is most likely from three (3) points: the Well Christmas Tree Cap, Swab and Wing Valves, which were carted away by the vandals.”
The spokesperson also indicated that Eroton has adhered to all regulatory obligations adding that the relevant authorities such as National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC), and other JV partners, the Ministry of Environment and the principal representatives of the respective Community Development Boards (CDB) were duly notified within the allowed window.
Max-Ebibai stated that despite challenges like tidal change, oil spill containment activities had continued in earnest.
She disclosed that the company is proactively reprioritising its security architecture to ensure additional measures in the monitoring of these vulnerable sites, to minimise potential vandalism and spill incidents such as this in the future.
She also empathised with the affected host communities, and indicated that another Joint Investigative Visit will be held immediately after the containment exercise to estimate the environmental impact of the spill.
“In line with Eroton’s tradition of fostering the subsisting good relationship with their host communities, the company will find a middle ground to alleviate the impact of this unfortunate spill,” she added.
The statement also indicated that a clean-up exercise following the planned JIV would also be concluded in the shortest possible time with all safety precautions and observance from all stakeholders.