Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) is yet to commence the clean-up of oil leak from its Kolo Creek manifold as at Tuesday almost a week after the spill.
Shell said the leak within the Kolo creek oil field it operated in Bayelsa discharged some 27 barrels of crude oil into the environment on April 15.
A visit to the oil spill site on Tuesday revealed that oil spill response workers deployed to halt further spill had left the site, while clean-up activities were yet to start.
The delay was attributed to disagreements to plans to immediately commence clean-up of the impacted site after the leakage was stopped.
A Joint Investigative Visit (JIV) conducted by SPDC officials, Bayelsa Ministry of Environment, community representatives and oil industry regulators, including the Department of Petroleum Resources on April 16 blamed sabotage as cause for the spill.
SPDC’s spokesperson, Joseph Obari, said the Report of the Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) at the Kolo Creek Manifold spill, which occurred on April 15, 2015, was attributed the leak to sabotage of the facility.
“The investigation team, which visited the site on April 16, found that unknown persons had cut out a section of the metal protection to the manifold, removed components of the pressure control system and opened the isolation valves, Mr. Obari said.
The sabotage, he said, had resulted in a spill, adding that the volume of spilled oil was estimated at 27 barrels, affecting mainly the manifold grounds and part of the surrounding vegetation.
The representatives of the community and officials of SPDC, however, held divergent views over the cause of the spill during the Joint Investigative visit.
A community representative, who participated in the JIV meeting, but wished to remain anonymous, said the community felt that the sabotage was a fall out of negligence by surveillance staff of the oil firm.
“We are not accepting the theory of sabotage at all, that facility is a restricted area and well-fortified,” the community said. “We believe that it is the responsibility of Shell to protect their facility, and if they are negligent on this, they should be held liable.”
According to the community representative, “sabotage has to be defined. It cannot be used loosely to cover up the negligence of the oil firm. We do believe it is negligence and not sabotage.
He said the spill had wreaked havoc and destroyed surrounding farmlands and plantain plantations in the community, adding that there must be a resolution on who would bear the responsibility for all the issues before clean up can start.
The Bayelsa State Commissioner for Environment, Iniruo Wills, along with officials of the ministry and civil society organisations, visited the spill site before the JIV on April 15 for an on-the-spot assessment.