The Federal Government has directed the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to work with the Nigerian Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) to trace the source of the oil spills impacting on the country’s shoreline in some Niger Delta communities in recent times.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment, Bukola Saraki, who gave the directive shortly after returning from an assessment tour of the impact of the recent oil spill in Bonga oil field, said during an overfly of the offshore facility, which spilled about 40,000 barrels into the ocean on December 20, traces of oil could be seen floating along the coastlines adjoining the spill location.
Bukola told reporters the directive was necessitated by the need to determine whether the oil on the shoreline was from Bonga or another oil company’s facility operating in the area.
Shell has consistently maintained that the oil slick from the spill has successfully dissipated and dispersed at more than 7.5 kilometres offshore by using chemical dispersants to curtail the impact from spreading to the Niger Delta shoreline, adding that the observed oil slicks still floating should be blamed on third party sources.
The Committee Chairman: “During an overfly of the area (Bonga), it was clear that a lot of work has been done to clean up most of the spill. We also had the opportunity to look at some of the satellite images that supported how the event started since December 21. Why the line gave up is still being investigated.
“We also flew across to Forcados. There were clearly some oil slicks at the shorelines. At the moment, it is not clear if it was coming from Bonga or a third party facility.
“NOSDRA and DPR are expected to take samples of the oil on the coastline to determine which facility was liable for the spill.
“The committee also appealed to the communities there to co-operate with the relevant authorities to quicken the clean-up of the shoreline. But, until the cause of the spill is determined, it will be difficult to decide what to do.”
The committee said it also wants NOSDRA and government to have independent spill clean-up organisations, pointing out that it could have been possible for Shell to have responded to the spill quickly and better if there was such an agency to work with it.
He said that apart from the Bonga spill issue, the visit of the committee to some the Niger Delta communities revealed that there were other problems that required urgent attention of government, including the need for indigenous operators to prepare for emergencies, such as the Bonga incident, to protect the country and the environment.