Bayelsa State, the home state of former President Goodluck Jonathan, is allegedly being plagued by pollution, conflicts, and corruption associated with oil.
This is as Total, a French oil major, discovered oil and gas at OML 102 offshore oilfield in Nigeria.
The well is located in shallow waters, 60km off the South-East coast. The discovered Ntokon oil and gas is located 20 km from Ofon field facilities.
While the discovery is due to be built using a tie-back to the existing facilities, Total’s Exploration and Production President, Nicolas Terraz, says “the Ntokon discovery opens a promising outlook for new tie-back development.
“After the start-up of production of the Ikike tie-back on OML99 in 2022, this new success in the area further demonstrates the potential of nearby exploration to create value within our low-cost, low-emission strategy.”
OML 102 is operated by TotalEnergies Nigeria with a 40% interest, alongside state-oil, NNPC Ltd which holds the remaining 60%.
In the meantime, Nigeria requires $12 billion to address the long-standing oil spills in Bayelsa over a 12-year period.
Anglo-Dutch oil and gas supermajor, Shell, and the Italian oil major, Eni, are accountable for the majority of the pollution in Bayelsa, going by the findings of the state.
Oil corporations operating in the country have been facing legal battles regarding spills in the vastly polluted Niger Delta.
Environmental rights advocacy groups like the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) driven by Nnimmo Bassey, as Director, often attribute the frequent oil spill in the region to very old pipelines. But, the oil companies are busy claiming sabotage, vandalism, and illegal refining.
Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission conducted an investigation starting in 2019 to assess the impact of spills.
The investigation utilized evidence from forensic scientists, blood samples from affected individuals, and company data.
The commission’s findings revealed that toxic pollutants resulting from spills and gas flaring significantly exceeded safe limits in soil, water, air, and the blood of local residents.
Spokesperson for Shell in the country said the company was not privy to the final report and could not comment.
Eni’s spokesperson however insisted that the oil spills were due to theft to feed illegal refineries, illegal exports, and sabotage.
Interestingly, the Italian oil major undertook to remedy all spills attributed to it.
Most of the gas produced from Eni’s Nigerian unit was converted into LNG and fed to local power plants, the spokesperson said, adding that “Eni conducts its activities according to the sector’s international environmental best practices, without any distinction on a country basis.”
Toxins that cause burns, lung problems and risk of cancer are widespread while oil company-led clean-ups are often poorly executed and could further contaminate soil and groundwater, the commission’s report said.
Credit: Akaniwo Sampson