FG says Nembe oil spill now under control

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The Federal Government has said that the recent oil spill in Nembe LGA of Bayelsa state is now under control

Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, disclosed this on Thursday at the weekly ministerial press briefing organised by the presidential media team at the presidential villa, Abuja.

A wellhead in the Santa Barbara South field had blown on November 5 and since then, it had been spewing oil into the water bodies.

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It is jointly owned by Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company (AEEPCO) and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Ikeazor announced that the Santa Barbara spillage has been brought under control weeks after the incident occurred; with necessary personnel and equipment deployed to begin recovery and remediation efforts.

However, she said Aiteo, the operating company of the OML29 in Nembe, Bayelsa state, has blamed the recent oil spillage in the country on sabotage by the locals.

The minister also announced plans to institute stiffer punishments for companies involved in oil spillage in the country, especially the Niger Delta region.

She explained that the environment ministry is engaging other relevant government agencies to achieve this.

According to her, the ministry of environment is working to amend the law establishing the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) to build its capacity and give it “the needed teeth to bite.”

“We need to put a strong legal framework to stop the oil spills that is going on. The devastation in the Niger Delta is massive — this is something we need to tackle headlong,” Ikeazor said.

“We need to review the NOSDRA Act— National Oil Spill Detection And Response Agency. We need to put stiffer penalties in place to be able to have the teeth to bite. The government is working to create alternative livelihood for the communities to be able to move them away from illegal activities.”

The minister emphasised the need to put an end to artisanal refineries, which she said had continued to cause pollution in the Niger Delta.

Ikeazor also lamented the high rate of deaths from smoke, especially among women in the country, which according to her, is the highest in the world.

The environment minister stated that the country cannot be committed to zero net emission and still be flaring gas.

She said something must be done about the ongoing gas flaring.

 

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