The Federal Government on Tuesday ordered the shut down of the Santa Barbara oil fields in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State over what it described as an “unfortunate oil spillage.”

The spill occurred on November 5 within the proximity of Opu Nembe Community at Well 1, Well Head located at the Southern Field of Sant Barbara.

“In a proactive measure to address the recent unfortunate oil spillage at Santa Barbara in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, the Federal Government has directed the exploration company, AITEO Eastern Exploration and Production Company Limited (AEEPCo) to halt operations in the area until proper investigation is carried out and adequate measures put in place to ensure the safety of lives and property in the area,” a statement signed by Ministry of Environment spokesperson, Saghir el Mohammed, said.

“It can be recalled that the spill occurred on November 5, 2021 in a form of fountain on within the proximity of Opu Nembe Community at Well 1, Well Head located at the Southern Field of Sant Barbara.

“Upon receipt of the report of the incident, a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) comprising the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regualtory Commission (NUPRC), Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment, Community representatives and Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company was set up on November 6, 2021 to immediately address the situation. The exercise was inclusive because of inaccessibility to the well head location due to the hydrocarbon fumes that saturated the atmosphere in the area.

“Consequently, the JIT directed AEEPCo to shut in the impacted asset (well head) for appropriate oil II response. Accordingly, AEEPCo deployed booms and skimmers to contain the spill crude oil from spreading.

“As at November 10, 2021, efforts to shut in the well has proven difficult due to inaccessibility. But in an effort to safeguard the environment and livelihood, staff from the NOSDRA’s Yenagoa Field Office were deployed to the site to monitor and give progress report on the measures being taken to address the issue. There is further directives to AEEPCo to engage all relevant stakeholders in the spilled oil recovery process.

“In this vein, 3000 barrels of emulsified crude oil have been recovered and held in a recovery barge. Also, additional booms were deployed by the Clean Nigeria Associates, a Tier II response (CNA) System to work with the on-site recovery contractor.

“Further effort yielded result as containment and recovery within the leak area have been reinforced by 15th November. Clean Nigeria Associates (CNA) has mobilized to site for enhanced containment and recovery. Boot & Coots, mobilized for well control and securing. AEEPCo has secured temporary Work Permit for expatriates expected in the country for the activity. Logistics support and arrangement build-up for the Well kill activity is currently ongoing.

“Based on JIT reports, a well control company (Kenyon International) was at the incident location for an on-site assessment. Meanwhile containment and recovery is still on-going. It is instructive to note that the well head experts have arrived Nigeria and will commence work on the killing of the well tomorrow.

“However, in order to ensure safety and guaranty future operations in the area by AEEPCo, NOSDRA has mandated the company to carry out concrete actions to address the situation that include clean-up of impacted areas, remediation of spill site as well as damage assessment and post spill impact assessment.

“The National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency through the Federal Ministry of Environment will keep the public informed of future developments on the spill incident with an effort to contained further spread and limit the effect on the environment.”