The Nigeria Agip Oil company (NAOC) and Apoi community in Bayelsa have disagreed over the true position of compensation for the September 2017 oil leak that polluted the area.
The Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) report of the oil spill incident had traced the cause of the oil leak to corrosion on NAOC’s 10” Tebidaba-Clough-creek pipeline in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa.
The oil leak discharged some 180 barrels of crude into the environment.
It was however, learnt that out of the 180 barrels of crude that leaked into the environment, 124 barrels have been recovered while the remaining 56 spread into and polluted surrounding waters and farmlands.
However, while the community said that clean up was yet to commence and terms for compensation agreed on, the oil firm maintained that it had in March, paid compensation.
Marco Rodondi, a general manager at Agip, dismissed claims that compensation was yet to be paid and that the clean up had not started.
Mr Rodondi explained that that the community-Agip conflict that followed the incident frustrated cleanup efforts which he said was currently at the final stage.
‘’This spill caused us a lot of headaches due to inter-community clashes between two factions that impeded the access to site and had severally delayed repairs and clean-up operations. We commenced cleanup of the spill with an initial recovery phase, right after the leak by recovery as much as possible of free oil.
“The second phase of the clean-up activity was severally stopped by a faction of the community. This substantially delayed further cleanup efforts. We carried out a joint monitoring of the cleanup site with government regulatory agencies and the contractor is on site to conclude the clean-up.
“We also wish to inform you that compensation has been paid to the community through Ebieri Global Concept Nigeria Limited, to whom they donated a power of attorney for the payment.
“The payment was made in February of this year. Therefore, we totally reject this false allegation regarding the payment,’’ Mr Rodondi said.
But, Apoi community through one of its leaders, Kemela Godpower, who is the Chairman, Apoi Council of Chiefs, said that the claims made by the oil firm were regrettable. He added that it was an indication that the oil firm was ”up to some mischief”.
Mr Godpower wondered ”why and how a company that had operated in the area since the 1980s would choose to deal with people who were unknown to the community.”
He said that Apoi people did not authorise anyone outside the community to negotiate compensation issues with NAOC; an indication he was aware some persons had received payment on behalf of the community; a re-occuring problem in similar scenarios.
On the delay to clean the spill, he said “the Agip spill was caused by corrosion right under the pipe”.
“That pipe was laid since 1980 and Agip has not changed it till date. Yet, Agip was arguing with us until the matter went to Bayelsa government house. It was the deputy governor, who prevailed on Agip before they came and clamped the ruptured spot. It was a tug of war before we were able to get the JIV from them.
“They initially did not want to give us our copy. But, up till now, no compensation has been paid by Agip, for individual and general community damage. We are still waiting on Agip to come and pay us but they are not forthcoming; the claims attributed to Agip officials regarding payment is a huge joke.
“Maybe an April fool’s joke, does it mean that they do not know their hosts? We want the state government to come to our assistance, just as we need the company to come and do the needful to help us too; since we are their landlords,” Mr Godpower said.