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Eroton E&P blames oil spill in Nembe on sabotage, yet to arrest situation

More than two weeks after an Oil well managed by an indigenous oil and gas firm, Eroton Exploration and Production Company Limited continues to pollute the environment of Nembe, Niger Delta, the company has attributed the spillage to the sabotage of its facilities in the affected area.

Last week, the head of the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Idris Musa said Eroton had reported the spill to authorities, blaming it on a leak from a wellhead.

Eroton said in an undated statement on Sunday that the incident started on June 15 and preliminary findings showed vandalism was the cause. The wellhead platform had been removed, making it difficult to gain access to the well, the company said in the statement.

The oil spill incident was reported by occurred on June 15, 2022, from Cawthorne Channel Well 15 Wellhead in one of the firm’s areas of operation. CAWC015L/S is a dual string well that started production in May 1977.

“The incident is attributed to sabotage from unknown persons, as the short string has been shut-in since 1988 due to high gas-oil ratio, while the long string watered out and quit in 1991,” the company said in a statement issued by its Head External Affairs and Corporate Communications, Mercy Max-Ebibai.

She said a preliminary joint investigative visit found that the entire valves on the Christmas tree wellhead accessories such as the control valves, tree caps, etc, were removed.

“The vandals also removed the Well platform and gangway making it more complicated to intervene on the flowing well,” the spokesperson stated.

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She added, “The removal of the platform means our technicians have nothing to stand on in attempting to control the unplanned flow as the well is standing at about 30feet above sea level.

“On inspection by our team of engineers and service contractors (marred by poor visibility from crude flow and height), it was observed that the crude oil leak is most likely from three points: the well Christmas tree cap, swab and wing valves, which were carted away by the vandals.”

Eroton also confirmed that all regulatory obligations had been adhered to with the relevant authorities duly notified within the allowed window.

It stated that despite challenges such as tidal change, oil spill containment activities had continued in earnest.

Last year, a nearby well run by Aiteo Eastern E&P spilled oil for more than a month, polluting the Delta creeks before it was successfully shut.

It was not immediately clear how much oil is produced from the well, which is part of assets that Eroton bought in 2015 from oil major Shell, which is selling its onshore assets to concentrate on deepwater drilling.

Oil spills, sometimes due to vandalism or corrosion, are common in the Niger Delta, a vast maze of creeks and mangrove swamps criss-crossed by pipelines and blighted by poverty, pollution, oil-fuelled corruption and violence.

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