The Nigerian government has directed the exploration company, AITEO Eastern Exploration and Production Company Limited to shut down operations of Santa Barbara oil fields in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa state to address the oil spill that happened at the location.

The spill occurred on November 5, 2021 within the proximity of Opu Nembe Community at Well 1, Well Head located at the Southern Field of Santa Barbara.

In a statement, the spokesperson of Nigeria’s Ministry of Environment, Mr Saghir el Mohammed, said the directive was to “address the recent unfortunate oil spillage at Santa Barbara in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa the State, till proper investigation is carried out and adequate measures put in place to ensure the safety of lives and property in the area.”

The statement said a Joint Investigation Team was set up after receiving report of the incident.

An investigation team “comprising the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency NOSDRA, Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory 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.

It added that 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.

The statement explained that as at November 10, efforts to shut in the well proved difficult due to inaccessibility but 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.

 “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.”

According to the statement, “Further effort yielded result as containment and recovery within the leak area have been reinforced by 15th November. Clean Nigeria Associates (CNA) has been 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 Joint Investigation Team reports, a well control company “Kenyon International” was at the incident location for an on-site assessment, as containment and recovery iwas 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 on 24th November 2021.