The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) said it has commenced the clean-up of Bodo oil spill since September 2017 with the removal of free-phase surface oil.
This, it noted is the first phase that will lead to soil remediation (phase 2), restoration of mangroves (phase 3) and monitoring. Reacting to The Guardian's publication on the impact of oil spill in Bodo community, General Manager, External Relations, SPDC, Igo Weli, said that the clean-up could only commence after the signing of a Bodo Mediation Initiative (BMI)-facilitated Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between SPDC and the Bodo community in 2015, which guaranteed access to the sites.
Weli noted that regrettably, the clean-up process agreed under the BMI was subsequently delayed in 2015 by the Bodo community refusing access to the clean-up crew. "The clean-up project continued to suffer delays in 2016 and most of 2017 due to continued access challenges from the community. It is commendable that the latest attempt to clean up is uninterrupted so far, and the benefits are becoming obvious.
"The BMI manages the clean-up, closely collaborating with representatives from the Bodo community, SPDC, the Nigerian government, the Dutch Embassy in Nigeria and other stakeholders.
"The removal of surface oil started on a good footing such that, Patrick Waterside, polluted in the unfortunate operational spills and subsequently by crude theft and illegal artisanal refining activities, is already showing signs of rejuvenation. Community people and visitors to this site report regenerating marine life and mangrove. The contractor allotted the Patrick Waterside site has completed phase 1. Although, the other contractor working in the Bodo town area experienced some challenges, he has remobilised to complete his portion of the work. We are delighted that the clean-up is on course, and the article apparently arrives at a contrary conclusion because it confuses the first phase with the completion of the clean-up."
Weli said contrary to report that new pipelines were being laid in Ogoniland, "SPDC is not laying new pipelines in Ogoniland. Rather, we have been carrying out repair work on the 24" Trans Niger Pipeline (TNP) which passes through a total of 33 communities in Obio Akpor, Eleme, Tai, Gokana, Andoni/Opobo and Bonny local government areas. The scope of work involves replacement of sections of the existing pipeline, which have been shut in since 2013 awaiting this maintenance.
"The affected communities were adequately engaged and their support secured prior to mobilisation of the repair crew, and the repair exercise is providing employment and other benefits for the host communities."
Responding to SPDC role in the implementation of the 2011 United Nations Environment Report (UNEP) on spills in Ogoniland, Weli said that while the Hydrocarbon Pollution and Remediation Project (HYPREP) is better placed to comment on the overall implementation of the UNEP report.
He said that SPDC can confirm that it has acted on all the recommendations addressed specifically to it as operator of the SPDC JV and has completed most of the recommendations. "For example, the 15 SPDC JV sites specifically mentioned in the report have been re-assessed, and where further remediation was required, those sites have been remediated and certified by government regulators. SPDC looks forward to working collaboratively with HYPREP and other government and non-government stakeholders to ensure the clean-up process established by the Federal Government succeeds," he added.
He said that the allegations that SPDC contributes to the problem by operating old and rusty pipelines are completely unfounded and untrue. Illegal refining and third-party interference are the main sources of pollution in the Niger Delta today.
" In fact, third party interference caused close to 90 per cent of the number of spills of more than 100 kilograms from the SPDC JV pipelines in 2017. This is even as SPDC continues to undertake initiatives to prevent and minimise spills caused by theft and sabotage of its facilities. In 2017, we sustained on-ground surveillance efforts on SPDC JV's areas of operations, including its pipeline network, to prevent third party interference and ensure that spills are detected and responded to as quickly as possible," he added.