Oil has been spilling from a well owned by Nigeria’s Aiteo Eastern E&P and state-run NNPC for two weeks in southern Nigeria, local residents and politicians said on Friday, saying it threatened the environment and local economy.
Aiteo said on Nov. 9 an “extremely high order” oil spill had started on Nov. 5 and that the pressure on the wellhead meant it was impossible to halt it immediately. It had no immediate comment on Friday but said a new statement was being prepared.
NNPC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Local residents shared videos with Reuters from Nov. 13 and Nov. 14 showing oil spewing from the wellhead in the Nembe area of the Delta, one of the most polluted places on earth after decades of spills that have hurt farming and fishing.
They said the oil was still gushing out on Friday, two weeks after the initial spill.
“Governor Douye Diri is gravely concerned that if the high volume of crude being spill continuously is not stopped immediately, it will spread to many more communities and undermine the economic life of residents,” his spokesman said.
The spokesman also said in a statement that Aiteo had not yet taken “any concrete step” towards stemming the leak.
The well, which is not in production, was purchased from Royal Dutch Shell in 2015.
Aiteo previously said it had not determined the cause of the leak but did not rule out sabotage or an attempt to steal crude, both common in the restive, economically deprived area.
Community leader Nimibofa Degi told Reuters that Aiteo had ignored the community’s initial reports of the leak and said locals had said they could see corrosion in the wellhead casing.
“Rather than look inwards at their safety procedures for such high pressure wells they are pointing accusing fingers at innocent people,” he said.
Nigeria, Korea Sign MoU On Maritime Security
Nigeria and the Republic of Korea have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on maritime security and safety.
The agreement was signed last week by the Director General, Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, and the Director General, International Affairs and Intelligence Bureau, Korean Coast Guard, Seonggi Kang.
According to a statement by NIMASA Assistant Director, Public Relations, Osagie Edward, the MoU provides a framework for both countries to develop, coordinate and monitor the implementation of maritime security and safety.
According to the statement, Jamoh said during the signing agreement that the MoU would be implemented to the best interest of both countries, adding that it will ultimately enhance safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea.
“The relationship between Nigeria and Korean spans over many decades. This MoU which started with a statement of intent in 2018 is designed to reinforce the commitment of both countries to grow bilateral trade through maritime”, Jamoh said.
Commenting on the emergence of Nigeria’s Dr. Paul Adalikwu as the newly elected Secretary General of the Maritime Organisation for West and Central Africa (MOWCA), Jamoh said it is another testimony of the trust the international community has on Nigeria as a leading maritime nation in Africa.
Jamoh called on the Korean Government to support Nigeria’s quest to return to council of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) during the elections scheduled for the first week of December in London.
He said, “It is worthy of note that Nigeria as a leading maritime nation in the West and Central Africa region is seeking election into council in category C at the IMO. We trust you will convey our message to your home country on the need to support Nigeria”.
Responding, Kang commended Nigeria for its commitment to the growth of the maritime industry.
He said, “We are impressed with the Nigerian Government’s commitment to safety and security in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea. We shall convey your message seeking support for return to council at the IMO to our home country based on conviction.
Kang expressed optimism that the MoU would assist in addressing some issues in the maritime domain.
According to him, “there are a lot of concerns in the Gulf of Guinea, especially with piracy and illegal fishing. We hope by signing this MoU, these challenges and others will be resolved”.
The MoU is for a period of five years and is expected to be automatically renewed for another five years unless any of the partners withdraws six months before the expiration.
The agreement covers capacity building, information sharing, search and rescue liaison and establishment of hotlines for direct communication at all times.
By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos
Lagos, Ecobank Donate 34 Fibreglass Boats To Fishermen
The Lagos State Government in collaboration with Ecobank Nigeria has donated 34 fibreglass boats to cooperative societies made up of young fishermen in the state.
The boats came with outboard engines and other ancillary fishing equipment.
Speaking during the presentation of the boats, the Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Abisola Olusanya, said that the deployment of the fishing assets would create over 2,000 jobs in the upstream and downstream sub-sector of the state economy.
She also said the fishing assets would produce 4,531 metric tonnes of fish annually.
Olusanya commended Ecobank on the partnership to uplift artisanal fisheries value chain in the state.
According to her, the ministry partners with Ecobank and Old Mutual Assurance to provide banking services, track cash flow in the business and aid fleet expansion for the fishermen.
The commissioner disclosed that the empowerment was under the 2021 Agricultural Value Chain’s Enterprise Activation Programme inaugurated by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu in July as part of the government’s commitment to support the fishery value chain.
She said each of the 34 cooperative groups comprising 20 members each would receive a boat and urged them to make judicious use of the equipment.
“Today, we are distributing the fibreglass boat to 34 cooperative groups free of charge, under the 2021 Agricultural Value Chains Enterprise Activation Programme.
“We need to monitor your activities to ensure that you utilise the equipment very well and also expand and increase the number of your fleet with the support of the financial institution.
“The banks are here to plan your business and increase opportunities for the generations to come. We want you all to grow your business and become multinational companies.
“We don’t want people to come from Japan, Netherlands and other foreign countries to talk about fish more than our people from the local fishing communities”, she said.
Sea Travellers To Pay More Fare To Bonny
Sea travellers wishing to leave Port Harcourt for Bonny Island may have to pay more fare, henceforth.
This follows a sudden increase of boat fares from Port Harcourt to Bonny barely a month to the Christmas season.
Boat fare from Port Harcourt to Bonny will now cost N2,500 against the initial N2,200 per passenger.
The increase in the fare was made known by the Marine Safety Officer, Bonny Maritime Transport Association (BMTA), Comrade Kings Dimkpe, during an interview with The Tide at the weekend.
The marine officer attributed the slight increase to the high cost of engine oil and the pump price of petroleum to drive the boats.
Dimkpe assured that the association would serve the passengers better and would not compromise on their safety.
He said the union would enforce strict safety terms during the yuletide and enjoined sea travellers to comply with sea regulations before embarking on their journey.
Comrade Dimkpe also appealed to boat drivers to shun recklessness on wheel and ensure strict compliance to safety rules and regulations.
He called on passengers to report any reckless driver to the union for necessary disciplinary actions.
He insisted that the union had banned night travelling, warning that any driver caught embarking on night journey would be sanctioned.
He, however, appealed to passengers not to pressurise boat drivers to sail at night, saying such is risky to their lives and the entire society.
By: Chinedu Wosu
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