OML 29 oil spill: strange death hits community, as youths threaten to stage protest

Nembe—An oil spill occurred on 5th November 2021 from well 1, OML 29, Santa Barbara, near Bassambiri in Nembe local government area of Bayelsa State.

The oil spill is still raging from the wellhead operated by Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company Limited. gathered that in the early hours of Thursday, 18 November, 2021, one Precious Longlife, 4, from Sand-Sand Village, a settlement just 3km away from the leaking wellhead, died mysteriously.

According to a source in the community, many residents believe that her death may be a result of hydrocarbon gas poisoning and contamination of the atmosphere by the spill.

Last week, an Aiteo team led by Chief Andrew Oru met with indigenes of Opu Nembe Kingdom. The team distributed relief materials in a bid to ameliorate the plight of those affected by the spill.

However, clan chairmen of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) from Nembe and Brass local government areas have condemned Aiteo for failing to stop the spill and begin remediation despite calls from different quarters.

They made this known in a statement signed by Comr. Hello Richard,
chairman IYC Brass clan and treasurer, IYC central zone Clan Forum; Comr. Moses Isogomo, Opu Nembe clan chairman and Comr. Martin Otari, Odioama clan chairman.

Other signatories are Comr. Oyaki Joel Nembe City chairman; Charles Anwel, Akassa clan chairman; Comr. Augustine Obiene, Okoroma clan chairman and Comr. Tari Olotu Koko, Okpoama clan chairman.

The youths expressed disappointment in the manner the spill is being handled by Aiteo three weeks after the sad occurrence.

While calling on Aiteo to immediately stop the spill, they threatened to embark on a peaceful protest against the company.

“We the Ijaw youths of the clans in Nembe and Brass LGAs strongly condemn AITEO Eastern Exploration and Production Company Limited for its failure and neglect to stop the leakage at Santa Barbara Well 1 after weeks of the incidence.

“This is not the first time we have seen spillage of such enormous volume from oil facilities in our area. These oil spills are becoming too regular and frequent with the attendant effects on our environment and the livelihood of our people.

“We are disappointed in the attitude of AITEO as a company towards this hazard caused by its operations. We, therefore, call on its management to make tangible efforts to begin remediation immediately, or else we will mobilize and embark on a mass demonstration against the company and its operations.

“We also want to call on the Federal Government, Bayelsa State Government, both Federal and State lawmakers and other stakeholders to come to the aid of the people of Opu Nembe and speak out.

“We ask the Bayelsa State Government to prevail on the company to do the needful because the lives of our people are seriously threatened by the pollution of the environment caused by the spill,” the statement reads.

All efforts to get a reaction from Aiteo proved abortive as messages sent to two staff were not responded to.

It will be recalled that on 3 November 2021, a gas leak also occurred at the Self-drilling Adraitic 1 Platform of Otuo South in OML 59 in Sangana community, Brass local government area of Bayelsa State.

The facility belongs to Shelf Oil and Gas Drilling Company Nigerian limited, a subsidiary of Conoil Producing Limited.

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