Nigeria intensifies cleanup following month-long oil spill in southern state

 Cleanup efforts and remediation measures are in place following an “extremely high order” oil spill from a wellhead that recently polluted the country’s Delta creeks, according to Nigerian author­ities.

Nigeria-based firm Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company, which jointly operates the Santa Barbara wellhead with the state-owned Nigerian Na­tional Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in the southern state of Bayelsa, reported the leak in early November along the Nembe coastline and into the Santa Barbara River which meanders through the Niger Delta before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean.

According to Aiteo on Friday, cleaning up of the affected community, from the Nembe area of Bayelsa, has been intensified after the oil leak was successfully plugged.

In an official statement by Victor Okoronkwo, its group managing director, the firm said the clean-up efforts that were concurrently executed throughout this period, to limit the spread of hydrocarbons, will be comprehensively escalated in collaboration with local experts.

Since early November, efforts have been in place to stop the spill ahead of cleanup and prevent further devastation of the marine ecosystem, as most of the locals depended on fishing for survival, local officials said.

In a statement on Wednesday, Minister of State for Petroleum Timipre Sylva said the month-long leak from the well, which has not been in production, was successfully plugged, noting the next stage was to car­ry out a comprehensive service of the wellhead as well as clean up the surrounding area.

Earlier, the Nigerian Senate, which is carrying out an investigation on the development, said this recent oil leak had spewed an equivalent of 2 million barrels of oil and gas into the creeks in the Delta region.

“Attempts to stop the continuous oil and gas spill by the operators had failed repeatedly for over one month running, wasting an estimated over 2 million barrels of hydrocarbon and gas,” Senate President Ahmed Lawan said following a senate resolution on Tuesday.

Lawan blamed the prolonged plugging of the leak on “a disappointing appearance of technical incompe­tence in handling the incident on the part of Aiteo.” — Xinhuathat area,” the Senate leader said. —Xinhua

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