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Eroton Blames Cawthorn Channel Spill on Sabotage, Commences Containment

Eroton Blames Cawthorn Channel Spill on Sabotage, Commences Containment

Ahamefula Ogbu

Eroton Exploration and Production Company Limited, an indigenous oil and gas company has blamed sabotage for the oil spill which was reported at its facility at the Cawthorn Channel 15 Well head and condemned it as reprehensible and a negative action against the environment.

A statement by the company yesterday empathised with the host and impacted communities whom they promised responsible and professional conduct in its operations which conform to global best practices.

“The incident is attributed to sabotage from unknown persons, as the short string has been shut-in since 1988 due to High Gas Oil Ratio (HGOR), while the long string watered out and quit in 1991,” a statement  Eroton’s Head of External Affairs and Corporate Communications, Mercy Max-Ebibai.

According to her, “a preliminary Joint Investigative Visit (JIV) found that the entire valves on the Christmas Tree, wellhead accessories (such as the control valves, tree caps, etc.) were removed. The vandals also removed the Well platform and gangway making it more complicated to intervene on the flowing well. The removal of the platform means our technicians have nothing to stand on in attempting to control the unplanned flow as the well is standing at about 30feet above sea level.

“On inspection by our team of engineers and service contractors (marred by poor visibility from crude flow and height), it was observed that the crude oil leak is most likely from three (3) points: the Well Christmas Tree Cap, Swab and Wing Valves, which were carted away by the vandals.”

She explained that so far, all regulatory obligations had been adhered to with the relevant authorities duly notified within the allowed window like statutory Form A to NOSDRA, NUPRC, NNPC and other JV partners, the Ministry of Environment and the principal representatives of the respective Community Development Boards (CDB).

Max-Ebibai confirmed that representatives of all the stakeholders took part in the preliminary joint investigation, adding that in spite of numerous challenges encountered, oil spill containment activities had continued.

“The containment booms have been deployed and reinforced to contain the spill spread. Oil recovery has commenced with the mechanical skimming of free phase oil, whilst a Wild Well control vendor, and our engineers are being deployed to site to establish Well Control across all the flowing points on the Christmas Tree with a view to get the well under control.

“Construction of a platform which would be installed around the flowing well to provide a standing point at height for the intervention technicians is currently in progress; the company is proactively reprioritising its security architecture to ensure additional measures in the monitoring of these vulnerable sites, to minimize potential vandalism and spill incidents such as this in the future,” she said.

Eroton said it was pained at the effect on the community and environment but would investigate spill volume and environmental impact once containment was completed in line with its tradition of fostering the subsisting good relationship with their host communities, the company will find a middle ground to alleviate the impact of the unfortunate spill.

It said it would fulfill all its obligations notwithstanding that, “compensations are not paid for well vandalism and sabotage incidents, promising to the Clean-up exercise following the planned JIV would also be concluded in the shortest possible time with all safety precautions and observance from all stakeholders.”

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