Argus Media Limited

11/10/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 11/10/2021 12:40

Nigeria's Aiteo reports major oil spill in Niger Delta

Nigerian oil firm Aiteo has reported a major oil spill at a well in the Niger delta.

The company said it identified the spill from a non-producing wellhead in the Santa Barbara South field in block OML 29 on 5 November. It describes the spill as "of an extremely high order" and said the cause is under investigation.

The spill has yet to be contained, according to Nigeria's spill response agency Nosdra. Agency officials visited the site on 6 November, along with members of the upstream petroleum regulatory commission, the environment ministry and community representatives. "Recovery of free phase oil was ongoing as at the time of this visit ... Aiteo was also directed to deploy more booms to contain the spilled crude oil," Nosdra said.

Production from OML 29 contributes to Nigeria's key crude stream Bonny Light. Aiteo acquired a 45pc stake in the licence from Shell, TotalEnergies and Italy's Eni in 2015. The deal included an interest in the 100km Nembe Creek Trunk Line (NCTL), which carries crude from the licence to the Shell-operated Bonny Light offshore terminal. Given the non-operational status of the well, it is unlikely that the incident is related to Aiteo's shutdown of the NCTL last month, which forced Shell to declare force majeure on Bonny Light exports on 27 October.

Spills from wellheads are less common in Nigeria than pipeline ruptures, which are often the result of oil theft in the Niger delta region. The Nigerian military dismantles several illegal refineries on a weekly basis. During the 14-28 October period, troops discovered a total of 27 illegal refineries. Last week, a fire at an illegal kerosine refinery caused 12 causalities in the Kubwa district near the capital Abuja.

By Nicola De Sanctis