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allAfrica.com: Nigeria: Shell Decries Lack of Access to Oil Fire Site

Daily Trust (Abuja)
January 11, 2007
Mohammed Shosanya
Lagos

The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) has expressed concern over the continous denial of access to the site of the Bomu wells 41 and 51 fires in Ogoni land, where it has not operated since 1993.

The company said this development is frustrating its efforts at putting out the fires. It said in a statement issued in Lagos yesterday that the continuing fire on the well head will compromise the Well Control equipment that is installed on the wells, and lead to total loss of control of the wells.
 
Second, It further said that in the event of a blow-out, there will be serious environmental damage and risk of injury or death to people within the area. According to the statement, SPDC had on Wednesday, January 3, 2007 received a report of the fires, and immediately sent formal reports of the incident to all regulatory authorities.

“A Joint Investigation Team comprising government officials, community representatives, and SPDC officials and fire fighterswere mobilized to visit the site the next day to undertake investigations and put out the fire. We were however advised by the Gokana LG Chairman not to go to the site since that day was the Ogoni Day celebrations.”

It said discussions were subsequently held with the local council Chairman and Community leaders on Friday, January 5 towards securing access to the wellheads. This was achieved late, according to the statement, and plans were then made to put out the fires the next day stressing that on Saturday, SPDC’s well control and fire fighting teams, as well as the Joint Investigation Team were mobilised to site, but could not immediately put out the fire due to technical reasons.
 
“The JIT and other teams were re-mobilised on Sunday, January 7, 2007, but neither the Gokana council Chairman, nor Chiefs were available to guarantee safe access to the well site. We however received assurances from community leaders that work could re-start the next day.

On Monday, January 8, 2007, the site team was again mobilized to the Gokana Divisional Police Headquarters near the site of the fire. A new twist was however added, when the community representatives, insisted on large monetary payments as condition for granting access for the fires to be put out. SPDC immediately sought the intervention of the Rivers State Government”.

The company however explained that “engagements have continued today, January 9, 2007[Tuesday] at all levels between SPDC and Rivers State Government to ensure that access issues are resolved urgently to enable us put out the fire. The site team has been remobilsed, and is on standby at the Gokana Divisional Police Headquarters,” the company said.

Copyright © 2006 Daily Trust. All rights reserved.

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