By Nathan Nwakamma
More than one month after an oil leak from a facility operated by Shell Development Company (SPDC) at Angiama community in Bayelsa, the Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) report is yet to be out.
Desi Macline, a representative of Angiama community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, said that disagreement over the volume of oil spill from Shell fields in the community was delaying the JIV report.
Macline, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday as a member of the JIV team, said that he declined to sign the JIV report because of gross underestimation allegedly calculated to evade compensation.
NAN reports that the JIV is a statutory team convened after any leak by operator, regulators, community and government representatives to ascertain the cause and quantity of oil leakage from oil spills.
The oil spillage occurred on March 17 at Angiama community in Bayelsa and has been traced to equipment failure due to corrosion.
Although the March incident has been traced to equipment failure due to corrosion, investigations by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) indicate that the Joint Investigative Visit (JIV) report has not been signed off.
NAN checks at Shell Petroleum Development Company’s (SPDC) oil spills website revealed no record of the March 17 incident at Angiama, while other leak incidents were reported on the portal.
Macline said that the community had allegedly witnessed oil workers recovered spilled crude with giant plastic tanks and hence disagreed on the volumes claimed by the oil firm in the JIV report forms.
“I refused to sign the form due to wide disagreement between what is on the ground and verifiable evidence, and the 43 barrels they proposed in the form, from our own perspective the volume of leak is in excess of 45,000 barrels.
“Based on verifiable evidence, we have counted the number of giant GP tanks of recovered crude and they have more than 20 of such large tanks already filled with crude and they say only 43 barrels leaked.
“What we found out from unnamed SPDC officials is that the 45,000 barrels we are estimating is very conservative because the crude has soaked into the land whilst evaporation and water currents have taken away lots of the oil.
“So, when you look at all the factors of how long the leak lasted before it was plugged, the claims by SPDC does not add up at all, that is why I opted to decline endorsing the claim.
“They had a similar leak late 2019, and I personally reported the spill to SPDC officials, the leak was from the well head, they came, recovered their oil and left without remediating the impacted area.
“Later they denied that there was no such incident,” Macline said.
The community representative further explained that both regulators and the oil firm agreed on the cause of the incident as the corroded facility was there for all to see.
Also, a source, who participated in the JIV to probe the cause of the leak and ascertain volume of crude into the environment, said that officials of SPDC insisted on under-reporting the leak despite abundant evidence of the extent of the leakage.
When contacted for a response on the incident, Mr Bamidele Odugbesan, the Media Relations Manager at SPDC, said that the oil firm would issue a response statement on the reported leak.
But in a reaction on Wednesday, Odugbesan acknowledged the delay in the release of the report, saying that the report could not be released because it had not been signed.
“The JIV is published after it is signed off and this marks the completion of the process,” he said.