Fishermen in Inanga area of Akwa Ibom State have reported sighting crude oil, suspected to have leaked from Shell’s Bonga Oil Field, on waters very close to the coast line.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the fishermen have begun steps to withdraw all fishing activities from the area.
Shell on Wednesday announced that some 40,000 barrels of crude had leaked into the Atlantic Ocean from its Bonga Deep Offshore Oil Fields and subsequently shut down the facility.
Bonga Field is located about 120 kilometres off the Nigerian coastline.
The National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) had in a statement by its Director-General, Peter Idabor, stated that the spill had travelled 185 kilometres and was expected to hit the shoreline soon.
“The source of the leak has been plugged, but the spill still threatens the shoreline and wildlife. Since the Mobil spill of 1998, this is just about the biggest,” the statement said.
The fishermen told NAN in Eket on Friday that they had seen oil deposits floating on the waters during a fishing expedition near Inanga location within the Qua Iboe Oil Fields.
Samuel Ayadi, chairman of Akwa Ibom chapter of Artisan Fishermen Association of Nigeria, said that the association was mobilising its members to withdraw from the waters and await the cleanup of the contaminated area.
“We saw the oil at Inanga and initially thought it came from Mobil because Inanga Oil Platform belongs to them, but we later heard of the incident in Shell, so we assumed it is coming from there. We shall immediately report to NOSDRA officials to come and take samples to determine the source of the oil, since all the crude streams have unique chemical characteristics.
“This news is a sad blow to fishermen because we are just begining to recover from the impacts of previous spills before this one took us back to square one,” Mr. Ayadi said.