The Bayelsa State Government has criticised claims that the Nov. 5 oil leak at Oil Mining Lease (OML) 29 in Nembe was caused by sabotage.
This was disclosed in a statement on Sunday issued by Mr Biriyai Dambo, Chairman, Technical Committee which dismissed the claim and faulted the procedures adopted in arriving at the conclusions.
Ripples Nigeria had reported that regulatory agencies investigating the incident had on Dec. 22 attributed the spill to sabotage while the Bayelsa committee claimed the spill was due to equipment failure.
The regulators are the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) and the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC).
In his response, Dambo said, “the divergent views held by the parties could not be resolved and so rendered the Joint Investigative Visit (JIV) inconclusive.”
“The components and accessories of the wellhead that were to be inspected had been removed and replaced, which amounted to tampering with and concealing the equipment and evidence.”
He further pointed out that there have been similar incidents of oil spillage, although of lesser magnitude, from the same Santa Barbara Wellhead 1 in OML 29 in 2018 and 2019, which Aiteo had previously admitted.
The committee expressed regrets that to date there had been no remediation nor safeguards against future recurrence put in place or enforced by Aiteo and NOSDRA respectively over the said spills.
According to the statement, requests for remediation of the earlier spills by the affected communities were rebuffed, until this major blowout happened in November