By Ejiofor Alike
As local and international pressure mounts on Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCo), operator of Bonga deepwater field, to clean-up the oil spill from the offshore facility, the company has claimed that it had removed 30,000barrels of crude oil from the water surface.
Shell said current estimates based on over flights indicate that the volume of crude oil on the surface of water has declined to about 10,000 barrels.
The company also stated that it had continued to apply dispersants and had also begun skimming operations to further reduce remnants of the oil leak.
A Shell Nigeria spokesman, who stated this in a statement at the weekend, also noted that although oil from the Bonga leak had not reached the shore, the company continued shoreline preparations in cooperation with the community.
Shell’s country chair in Nigeria, Mutiu Sunmonu, said SNEPCo had confirmed that the oil leaked from the Bonga facility continued to thin as a result of the effective use of dispersants by seaborne vessels and aircraft.
“Surveillance and aerial photos show the spill is breaking up into patches surrounded by clear water. The spill remains offshore. We continue to monitor its movement using satellite imagery and vessels in the zone. Two aircraft and multiple seaborne vessels have been mobilised to survey and spray dispersants in the affected areas. These activities are having visible effect,” he said
He disclosed that SNEPCo had brought in experts from across the globe to Nigeria to support the response team, which is working around the clock in shifts.
“The company continues to engage with the local communities. Joint efforts, in close cooperation with local and national governments and industry partners, continue to combat the spill,” he said.
SNEPCo had last Wednesday confirmed that it had shut in the 200,000 barrels per day of crude oil capacity Bonga Oil Field in response to an oil leak at the facility.
The leak occurred on Tuesday during a routine operation to transfer crude oil from Bonga’s Floating Production, Storage and Off-loading (FPSO) vessel to a waiting oil tanker.
Shell stated that the field had to be shut in response to the oil leak at the 200,000 barrel-per-day capacity deepwater facility, located approximately 120 kilometres off the Nigeria coast.
SNEPCo resumed crude oil production at the oil field in April, after six weeks of maintenance of the FPSO vessel.
The shut-down of the field on February 28, 2011, which was initially speculated to last for four weeks, was the first of the field’s five- yearly mandatory turnaround maintenance.