Nigeria Oil Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke faces the challenge of maintaining production levels amid growing unrest in the petroleum producing regions of the West African state, the continent's most populous. Nigeria held national elections in 2011., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Bonga spill: Senate directs agencies to check shoreline oil
By Emeka Ugwuanyi, Kelvin Okunbor and Oluwakemi Dauda
The Senate Committee on Environment has directed the Nigerian Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to examine the oil noticed on the shoreline when the members of the committee had an overfly of the Bonga facility to have a firsthand information of the Bonga oil spill, which has been on since last week.
The Committee Chairman, Senator Bukola Saraki, and his members, who addressed the press after their visit to the facility, said the directive has become imperative to determine whether the oil spill they noticed was from Bonga or a third party asset.
He also expressed concerns over the poor funding of response agencies.
Consequently, the agencies will take a sample of the spill on the coastline to determine, which facility was liable for the spill.
The committee commended the efforts of Shell at containing the incident, explaining that they overflew to Forcados to get comprehensive assessment of the incident.
Saraki said: “We were able to fly over the area and it was clear that a lot of work has been done by Shell to clean up most of the spill that has occurred. Shell has been effective in response to containing the incident.
“We also had the opportunity to look at some of the satellite images that supported how the event started since December 21. Shell officials also explained to us what led to the spill, how one of the three lines that supply crude to the export tankers gave up. Why the line gave up is still being investigated but definitely Shell exhibited corporate responsibility by shutting all operations and production immediately the incident occurred.
“We also flew across to Forcados where there was clearly some oil at the shoreline but at the moment it is not clear if it was coming from a third party facility or from Bonga. NOSDRA and DPR have been told to go and carry out examination of the oil to determine where the oil came from.
“The committee also appealed to the communities there to co-operate to quicken the clean up of the shoreline. Frankly, what we saw is human resources equipment pooled together to address the incident. But going forward, until the cause of the spill is determined; it will be difficult to decide what to do.”
The committee said it also wants NOSDRA and government to have independent spill clean-up organisations, stressing that it was possible for Shell to quickly respond to the spill because it is a big and responsible company.
Apart from the Shell spill, Saraki noted that the committee has gone through the Niger Delta and discovered there are issues and there is urgent need to address them. He said oil companies including the indigenous firms, should be directed to get prepared to tackle emergencies, such as the Bonga incident to protect the country and the environment.
Other members of the committee at the event were Prof. Ben Ayade; Vice Chairman, Senator Gbenga Ashafa and Senator Bolu Kunlere as well as Secretary of the committee, Vibi Njamanze.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has raised an alarm over the oil spillage from the Bonga facility, which is rated the worst to hit the country since 1998.
The Bonga facility is located about 120 kilometres off Nigeria’s coast and produces 200,000 barrel of oil per day.
The slick from the Shell facility was said to have affected over 115 miles of ocean near the nation’s coast and putting at risk fish, birds, vegetation and other marine resources in the areas.