ERA/FoEN and Bayelsa Community Accused SPDC of Oil Spills, – Community Threatened to Shut Down Facilities
The ERA/FoEN in conjunction with the Ikarama community in Yenagoa Local government area of Bayelsa state have called on SPDC to embark on thorough remediation , clean up their environment that have been affected by oil spills and pay them adequate over the destruction of their aquatic life and natural resources.The community equally threatened to shut down SPDC operations in the area unless their demands were met.
Comrade Alagoa Morris, Head of Environmental Rights Action/Friend of the Earth , ERA/FoEN , Bayelsa state , at a press conference in Yenagoa on the theme : Resisting Regulatory Capture , which was attended by aggrieved stakeholders from Ikarama community an area that have been ravaged by series of oil spills with its attendant consequences.
According to him, ERA/FoEN seeks to discourage further attempts to discourage regulatory capture.SPDC and Ikarama community have been consistently traded words over oil spills . While SPDC always accused them of sabotage , that is alleging that the spills were caused by the local folks who in turn attributed the spills to equipment failure attributed to corrosion.” Oil spills due to oil theft and sabotage of facilities ( refered to as third party spills from third party interference: oil spills due to crude oil theft and sabotage of facilities ( referred to as third party interference) as well as illegal refining caused the most environmental damages from oil and gas operations in the Niger Delta.Third party interference has caused closed to 90% of the number oil spills of more than 100 kilograms from Shell Development Company of Nigeria ( SPDC )operated Joint Ventures pipeline in 2018.
He posited that in Nigeria oil industry regulators are supposed to be referees. ” The National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency ( NOSDRA ) and state ministries of Environment are the regulators “He averred that ERA/FoEN over the years had concluded that the Ikarama community is one of the communities with highest frequencies of documented oil spills , with most of the officially declared attributed to third party interference by the regulators. ” However, accusing fingers are also pointed at SPDC staff/contractors as instigating some of the spills , there have been few officially documented cases of equipment failures either caused by corrosion or faulty valves ” He cited as example the oil spills along SPDC,s Adibawa – Okordia Delivering Line on 12th November 2011 was one of the clear cases of corrosion incidents.Also in June / July 2009 inside the Okordia Manifold argued to be equipment failure by locals ,but SPDC has kept mute and failed to do the needful in terms of compensation. Besides , ERA/FoEN has documented its field reports a case where the local folks alleged a spill due to equipment failure, but SPDC denied the victims copies of the JIV reports until the company, s operational vehicle was seized before the copy of the JIV report was released.In another incident , a community folk who was asked to accompany SPDC to collect a copy of the JIV report was allegedly pushed down from the car because SPDC never wanted the community to have evidence of equipment failure related to oil spills in that environment.”There are avalanche of living witnesses to the plethoras of allegations against SPDC” he said.He said since SPDC has not been able to produce the individuals responsible for the spills , ERA/FoEN will not watch and allow victims of oil operations suffer denial, even when its obvious that they should be so treated by their tenant.
Meanwhile aggrieved representatives from Ikarama community have led their supports to all the documented evident of spills by ERA/FoEN, Head in Bayelsa state, Comrade Alagoa Morris.According to chief Ramos Eku, the people of Ikarama community had suffered too much from oil spills on their environment and had vowed not to be intimidated any longer by SPDC and the military and since they have refused to reply to their letters , SPDC should not misconstrue their simplicity to cowardice .He further stressed that the pipelines in Ikarama community were overdue for replacement since they were laid since 1964 and since they refused to replace them,SPDC should desist forthwith from accusing the local folks of sabotage. ” We are now ready to face the soldiers from SPDC” he threatened.Another speaker , pastor Fiebor Francis has described SPDC as a blantant liar.He said that a JIV by SPDC revealed that a spill that spread over a large expanse of land indicated there were no palm trees .SPDC, he said denied that a spill did not affect farm lands , crops, ponds and aquatic lives.They are therefore appealing to Bayelsa state government and NOSDRA to come to their aid.Kufi Moses ,a youth leader had called on SPDC to carry out a thorough remediation that will include Obu lake, alleging that simply because his family does not have anybody in authority, SPDC has always neglected Obu lake. He also decried the divide and rule tactics by the Multinational oil giant which has resulted to numerous conflicts in most oil bearing communities.
An activist ,David West also berated SPDC and advocated for the shutting down of its facilities since that is only language it understands.’ I urge Ikarama community youths to embark on blocking oil wellheads as that is the only option that will compel SPDC to deal with them in terms of compensation and remediation of the damaged environment ” he said.While , Engr. Japheth Bank, a former Director of Pollution and retired permanent Secretary in Bayelsa state suggested and appealed to Ikarama community to reach out to the state governor, Senator Douye Diri through the state ministry of Environment and Ministry of Mineral resources for amicable resolution instead of embarking on blocking oil pipelines that would have negative impact on the nation,s economy.He commended ERA/FoEN and the Ikarama community for the press conference which a avenue to inform SPDC and Bayelsa state government on the plight of the people .