By Nathan Nwakamma
Yenagoa, Jan 17, 2021
Fishermen operating in the shallow waters of the Atlantic Ocean near Bayelsa coastline on Sunday reported an oil leak suspected to be from the Funiwa oilfield operated by Chevron Nigeria (CNL).
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that fishermen from Koluama in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area noticed crude on the waters near the oil facility as helicopters were seen overflying the area.
Tombra Ebitimi, a fisherman from the coastal settlement told NAN that he noticed the incident on Saturday night and subsequently reported same to the community leadership.
He said that several helicopters have been deployed to the area for assessment as response efforts were yet to commence.
“Some of us who went on fishing sailed into the oil contaminated area near the Funiwa oilfield and got our nets and fishing gear soaked with crude on Saturday. By today we noticed some helicopters over-flying the facility.
“It could be that community leaders have informed the company but our concern is that they should not apply toxic chemicals from the sky to dissolve the oil. Those chemicals used to disperse and breakdown crude is unfriendly to fishes and marine life generally,” Ebitimi said.
He said that fishermen in the area had temporarily suspended fishing to avoid catching contaminated fishes that could jeopardise public health.
First Exploration and Production, an indegenous oil firm operates Oil Mining Leases 83 and 85 acquired from Chevron following its divestment from some of its assets in the area where it still retains interests in some fields.
Officials of Chevron and First Exploration and Production have yet to respond to requests for comments on the incident.