Bayelsa — Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company (AEEPCO), operator and joint owner of Oil Mining Lease (OML) 29 has expressed optimism that the leaking Wellhead in the Santa Barbara South field, Nembe, Bayelsa State, would be finally contained in the next few days.
The independent oil producer added that the wellhead, which blew up last month and has been spilling volumes of oil, was currently being pumped with chemicals that would contain further leakage in one or two days.
Aiteo's Global Group Director/Coordinator, Mr. Andrew Oru, told journalists during the tour of the scene of the incident involving both helicopter view and patrol boats along the water ways around the vicinity, that the spill had already been substantially diminished.
He said the spill was a special type - a gas blowout - which involved 80 per cent gas and 20 per cent oil.
Oru said the oil spillage was minimal as it was effectively contained both by what was known as the booms, adding that, that was contrary to the impression that the entire environment had been seriously polluted.
Oru described as "spurious" claims that the well had spilled two million barrels of oil into the creeks, explaining that the well's production capacity, including its total reserves, was nowhere near two million barrels.
Addressing Opu Nembe people while presenting the palliatives to them, after the site tour, Oru stated: "The talk of two million barrels of oil spilling from the well is spurious.
"Two million barrels is about two super tankers. The oil would have spread over the entire country if it were that much as claimed. The reserve of the well itself is nowhere near two million barrels."
He assured the community that the company was doing everything possible to prevent any humanitarian or ecological disaster.
Oru further said, "I can tell you authoritatively that the pressure of the well has been substantially diminished already, because all the chemicals that are needed to put the pressure under control are been fed in continuously and the pressure has started going down.
"This spill is a special type. It's not just an oil spill, it's a gas blowout, for whatever reason. There are two stages in containing it. The first one is to stop the gas leakage. The second is to kill the well.
"It is the gas leakage that engenders and creates room for some droplets of oil to escape with gas.
"The well is a gas well, 80 per cent gas and about 20 per cent oil; that is why it is relatively easy for us to contain the amount of oil that spills out. Ordinarily, if what is coming out now were oil, I can imagine that we'll be needing Noah's Ark by now."
He noted that the heavy vegetation of the area by which oxygen was emitted in large quantities and which flows freely as well had also help to absorb gaseous emissions.
"But critically speaking, the pressure of the gas that is coming out has been almost completely extinguished and in one or two days maximum, I believe we will proceed further to begin the well kill process," Oru said.
The company also donated five truckloads of palliative, including food and medical supplies, to the Nembe people.
The items received by the community's leaders for onward distribution to all fishing communities directly affected by the spillage included 10 cows, 500 bags of rice, 500 cartons of noodles, 500 cartons of water, and 500 tubers of yam.
Others were 200 cartons of toilet rolls, 200 cartons of milk, 200 bags of garri, 200 cartons of tin tomatoes, 100 cartons of bevarages and 100 cartoons of vegetable oil and cash of N2 million for transportation.
Also, presented to the communities were medical supplies comprising six digital thermometers, four blood pressure machines, two sugar testing kits, 150 packs of Coartem for malaria, five packs of PCM, five cartons of Detoil, 40 mosquito nets, Vitamin C and fully equipped first aid boxes.
The Chairman of Opu-Nembe Council of Chiefs, Chief Ori Ango Ekpeleyai-Oruwari, who spoke on behalf of the Nembe monarch, said, "On behalf of the Amanayanbo of Opu-Nembe Kingdom, I receive these relief materials that are coming to our community for the second time.
"For those who are directly impacted in the oil spillage from OML 29 at Santa Barbara we are indeed very grateful to Aiteo for bringing this relief materials to us."