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Shell Under-reporting Oil Spill in Bayelsa Community -Investigation

From Mike Tayese, Yenagoa

The disparity in the volume of oil spill from Shell’s field at Angiama community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area in Bayelsa has caused disagreement amongst parties investigating the incident, investigations have revealed.

Although the March incident has been traced to equipment failure by corrosion, investigations indicate that the Joint Investigative Visit (JIV) report has not been signed off.

Checks at Shell Petroleum Development Company’s oil spills website revealed no record of the  March 17, incident at Angiama, while other leak incidents were reported on the portal.

JIV is a statutory team convened after any leak by the operator, regulators, community and government representatives to ascertain the cause and quantity of oil leakage from oil spills.

According to a source, who participated in the JIV to probe the cause of the leak and ascertained volume of crude into the environment, officials of SPDC insisted on under reporting the leak despite abundant evidence the extent of the leakage.

Mr Desi Macline, who represented the host communities in the joint investigation, said on Wednesday, that he declined to sign the JIV report because of gross underestimation calculated to evade compensation.

He said that the community had witnessed oil workers recover spilled crude with giant plastic tanks and hence disagreed on the volumes claimed by the oil firm in the JIV report forms.

“I refused to sign the form due to wide disagreement between what is on the ground and verifiable evidence and the 43 barrels they proposed in the form, from our own perspective, the volume of leak is in excess of 45,000 barrels.

“Based on verifiable evidence, we have counted the number of giant GP tanks of recovered crude and they have more than 20 of such large tanks already filled with crude and they say only 43 barrels leaked.

“What we found out from unnamed SPDC officials is that the 45,000 barrels we are estimating is very conservative because the crude has soaked into the land whilst evaporation and water currents have taken away lots of the oil.

“So when you look at all the factors of how long the leak lasted before it was plugged, the claims by SPDC does not add up at all, that is why I opted to decline endorsing the falsehood.

“They had a similar leak late 2019 and I personally reported the spill to SPDC officials, the leak was from the well head, they came, recovered their oil and left without remediating the impacted area.

“Later they denied that there was no such incident,” Macline said.

The Community representative further explained that both regulators and the oil firm agreed on the cause of the incident as the corroded facility was there for all to see..

When contacted for a response on the incident, Mr Bamidele Odugbesan, Media Relations Manager at SPDC said that the oil firm would issue a response statement of the reported leak.

The statement is still being awaited following a request since April 7.

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