BY HABEEB ADAMU & GRACE AIRHULE
The National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) has blamed the oil wellhead leak at the Oil Mining Lease (OML) 18 on activities of vandals.
The agency said, however, that efforts were being made to plug the leaking oil well.
OML 18, located near the corridors of the export line in Rivers and operated by Eroton Exploration and Production Limited, an indigenous operator, produces and exports crude through the 97-kilometre Nembe Creek Trunkline (NCTL).
Reports quoted residents as saying the facility had been discharging oil and gas into the coastal environment for the past week.
“The company reported and oil recovery is underway. Efforts are on to stop the source which is a wellhead,” said Idris Musa, director-general of NOSDRA, while confirming the leak.
Eroton said the incident occurred on June 15 and preliminary findings from a site assessment visit carried out on June 23 showed the leakage was due to suspected vandalism.
“This is to bring to your attention the loss of control of Cawthorne Channel well 15 resulting to an oil spill,” the company said in a notification report by Odianosen Massade, its corporate communications lead.
“The spill started on the 15th of June 2022 and immediately an emergency response procedure was activated. The operations team quickly visited the site for preliminary investigation and discovered that the wellhead was vandalised. It was also observed that the wellhead platform was removed, and this will compound the difficulties in gaining access to the wellhead,” Eroton said.
It said its team of well engineers were working with contractors and evaluating the safest procedure that would be required to bring the well under control.
“We have activated our oil spill emergency response plan and booms have been deployed for mitigation in the area as a preliminary containment procedure. Notifications have also been sent to all the relevant regulators (NOSDRA, NUPRC & RSMENV). A Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) by all stakeholders is planned for this week although this is subject to the readiness and availability of the critical stakeholders. Our operations team is monitoring the site, commenced oil recovery and are prepared to respond to any escalation,” the company said.