The people of Okpoama, in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa have said that an oil spill incident from an oilfield operated by Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) has polluted the area causing untold hardship to the predominantly fishing population.
Chief Inikio Sele-Dede, Chairman of the Okpoama Kingdom Chiefs Council, said on Monday in Yenagoa that the leadership of Okpoama, where Chief Timipre Sylva, Minister of State, Petroleum hails from, restrained the youths from violence.
According to him, the youths had threatened and hatched plans to storm the Agip CudenTerminal in Brass over the leakage which occured along the 24″Ogoda-Brass trunkline operated by NAOC at Ikuiku near Ewoama-Brass.
Sele-Dede explained that the spill which is the second in the area since May 2020 was discovered on October 8, 2020 and is still discharging crude oil into the creeks and adjourning environment till date.
The community leader lamented that the leaking oil has spread to Fantuo, Canus Kiri Okpongbokiri, Inibomoye Kiri, Alafurughakiri, Inengigha kiri as a result of the tidal current.
Sele-Dede said that NAOC officials visited the scene of the spill secretly without the knowledge of the JIV team in an attempt to stop the spill to no avail.
“In May this year we had a similar incident not far from the present spill site. In this case, just like the previous case Agip officials came secretly to attempt to stop the leakage but were overwhelmed by the pressure.
“You can imagine the quantum of oil that has gone into the creeks given the number of days of leakage from October 8 ,” he said.
Sele-Dede noted that Ikuiku is an area where women go and harvest periwinkles, adding that the youths who hitherto engaged in fishing in the area had suspended their vocation due to the pollution of the area and are angry over the development.
“I clearly understand the anger of the youths because the company which provides power in the community has not provided power to the community in recent times,” he said.
Sele-Dede, however, called on the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency- NOSDRA to quickly intervene in the management of the spill incident.
When contacted for a reaction on the leak, Eni, the parent Company of NAOC in a statement by a spokesperson confirmed the incident and regretted that its response since the incident was hampered by denial of access by the host communities.
“Preliminary findings show that the event is a minor spill, estimated in less than two barrels and containment measures have been deployed.
“However, community disturbance linked to issues of land ownership involving multiple communities has been delaying our access to the area and therefore direct physical intervention.
“Regulators and authorities have been duly informed and we are continuing to engage the community to get access to the area,” Eni Management stated