Oil spills from the Tebidaba/Brass Agip Trunk Line within OML63 field operated by the Nigerian Agip Oil Company has sacked Lasukugbene Community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, causing serious devastation to the environment.
The spill, which was first noticed on the 3rd of February 2022, continued for over a month and was eventually clamped by Agip on March 18th.
Though Agip might have shut down the line, it did not automatically stop crude oil from spewing, but only lowered the pressure on the line and volume spewed into the environment.
A follow up visit to the impacted communities reveals that all the fishing settlements along the Nun River have been deserted as a result of the spill, and peasant fishermen can no longer cast their fishing nets due to heavy presence of crude oil covering the creek leading to the spill sites, riverbanks, including vegetation.
Meanwhile, there has been no sign that Agip tried to contain the crude oil from spreading, no signs of booming materials anywhere in the creeks laden with crude oil.
Heavy volume of crude spreads on the creeks and rivulets, emptying into the River Nun and heading towards the Ocean at ebb tide, dead fishes and crabs float with the crude oil.
Narrating the predicament of the people, the General Secretary of Lasukugbene,
Mr Valiant Jackson, explained that since Febrary 3rd when the oil spills occurred, Agip has not been to the community or identify with them, but only sent contractors to clamp the leaking pipeline.
Jackson said the leaking pipeline was laid by Agip in the early 1970s, adding that since then, the community has not benefitted anything from the Italian firm apart of incessant cases of oil spills.
He lamented that the spill has affected their source of drinking water and means of livelihoods.
Urging the government to call Agip to order, he said Agip’s act of negligence should attract some penalty from regulators of the industry, as operators cannot self-regulate.
“The delay in responding to these spills by Agip speaks volume; it is an act of irresponsibility and environmental racism, because Agip/Eni cannot do such in Italy or Rome. Sometimes security concerns are put forward as excuse, but in this particular case, there was nothing like security threat to any staff or contractor.
“It has not been easy with us. That is why we are of the view that government should intervene, prevail on Agip and send us relief materials immediately before going ahead with other things. What is happening is not in our favour, it is not good for us. We are begging because we don’t have power to contend with Agip. That is why the government should come in.
“This has been happening repeatedly and they always attribute the cause to sabotage; but this one even Agip has confirmed that it is equipment failure, that their pipeline caused the problem”, …….