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Finally, Aiteo Halts Bayelsa Wellhead Blowout, Begins Remediation Process

Aiteo, operator of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation/Aiteo Joint Venture (JV), Oil Mining Lease (OML) 29, yesterday finally succeeded in shutting down the leak on its Santa Barbara wellhead in

Aiteo, operator of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation/Aiteo Joint Venture (JV), Oil Mining Lease (OML) 29, yesterday finally succeeded in shutting down the leak on its Santa Barbara wellhead in Nembe, Bayelsa state.

A statement signed by the Group Managing Director of the indigenous oil company, Mr. Victor Okoronkwo, on Wednesday, explained that the impaired facility had been brought under control, the flow stopped and the well secured.

In reaction to the development, the Council of Ethnic Youth Leaders of Nigeria have hailed President Muhammadu Buhari, the Minister of State Petroleum Chief Timipre Sylva, AITEO, Clean Nigeria Initiatives and everyone that play in shutting down the oil spill in Santa Barbara wellhead.

According to Okoronkwo, the shutting down of the leak was achieved against the backdrop of very challenging circumstances exacerbated by the weather, the tidal cycle in the creek, and the silted slot of the well resulting in reduced effective working hours.

The company had on Friday, November 5, 2021, reported a hydrocarbon wellhead leak on the facility to the Nigerian authorities.

Aiteo stated that the well, which the company acquired in 2015, had been mostly dormant and had been securely isolated since then, describing the leak as a high pressure one.

Also in preparation for the “well kill”, Aiteo had raised a team comprising members from its internal well operations experts and had contacted a foreign firm, Boots & Coots to help in the operation.

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That was in addition to the earlier mobilisation of the Clean Nigeria Associates (CNA) in an attempt to halt the blowout which was said to comprise about 20 per cent oil and 80 per cent gas.

Stating that the challenges impacted the timeline of the operation, Aiteo noted that with the successful operation, it could confirm that there are no more leakage from the well.

The company added that it was remarkable that even with the dangers of the high exposure and risk, the entire operation had been executed and delivered with zero incident and zero fatality.

It explained that the clean-up efforts that were being concurrently executed throughout the period to limit the spread of hydrocarbon would now be comprehensively escalated.

To this end, Okoronkwo stated that the concerted efforts would further be channelled immediately into increasing remediation measures.

The GMD pointed out that in prosecuting the remediation activities and in aligning with Aiteo E&P’s strategic priorities to ensure uninterrupted continuation of the living conditions, the wellbeing of the communities remains the paramount consideration.

“This successful milestone is a remarkable testament to the capabilities that exist within indigenous players when faced with incidents of such magnitude, even when unanticipated.

“Although indigenous participation in the upstream space is nascent, the efforts evident in the management of this incident, especially the remarkable Aiteo E&P Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) policy, foretells the progress that has been made in building, growing, and elevating both expertise and technical capabilities by indigenous oil companies such as ours.

“The professionalism with which the technical and support personnel executed this significant operation cannot be overemphasised, especially, considering the challenging operating terrain,” Okoronkwo explained.

According to him, the motivation and inspiration that enabled the accomplishment to happen must receive special and deserved mention.

“We thank the Almighty God without whom none of this would have been possible. Aiteo E&P expresses profound appreciation to His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who demonstrated immeasurable and sterling leadership in this matter.

“We thank the Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, for his resolute support; the Honourable Minister for Environment, Mrs. Sharon Ikeazor, for her unique open-mindedness and the Chief Executive, Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Petroleum Commission (NUPRC) Mr. Gbenga Komolafe, for his deft management of this situation.

“We express our immense appreciation and gratitude to our senior Joint Venture (JV) Partner, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), for standing shoulder to shoulder with us during this period. We also specially thank the Group Managing Director, NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari for his exceptional leadership,” the company said.

In the same vein, it appreciated the cooperation of the Group General Manager, National Petroleum Investment Services (NAPIMS), Mr. Bala Wunti, the Director General, National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) Mr. Idris Musa whose insight and focus it said ensured that sense overwhelmed slogan.

It further commended the CNA, and other related and relevant government agencies for their immense contributions, guidance, and belief in its resolve to address the mishap as well as having faith in the company to deliver during the challenging times.

In addition, the company lauded Messrs. Boots and Coots whose unavoidable unavailability it said meant an unintended compulsion to resort to finding in-country capacity and in the process, locate both peerless competence and astuteness.

“To Mr. Victor Ekpenyong, Founder and CEO of Kenyon International West Africa Co. Ltd (an indigenous oil services company), we owe an immeasurable debt of gratitude for exhibition of courage and expertise.

“Above all, to our host communities, we thank you to no end for your understanding despite some provocative incitements that have occurred within this period.

“The road ahead in sustaining this successful operation will demand cooperation, unity of purpose, continuing understanding and patience of all stakeholders towards delivering a comprehensive, impactful and timeous closure of this incident,” the company stated.

On its part, Aiteo said it was buoyed by the milestone achieved, and in so doing, reaffirm its undiminished commitment to the Nigerian oil and gas indigenous community.

Meanwhile, the Council of Ethnic Youth Leaders of Nigeria has hailed President Muhammadu Buhari, the Minister of State Petroleum Chief Timipre Sylva, AITEO, Clean Nigeria Initiatives and everyone who role to play in shutting down the oil spill in Santa Barbara wellhead.

Addressing newsmen following the news of the stopping of the spill, the Council’s leader, Mr. Godwin Meliga said despite all the challenges to this kind of spill, the concerted efforts coordinated by President Muhammadu Buhari was responsible for the feat achieved and for this Nigerian youths are appreciative.

Meliga called on all concerned to move into the next stage which would include remediating the impact of the spill on the flora and fauna of the affected area so that the people can go back to their normal lives without more difficulties.

Also, the President of the Arewa Consultative Youth Movement, Mallam Kabiru Yusuf, praised President Muhammadu Buhari for providing leadership which led to the final killing of the leaking OML 29 Well head which had been spilling oil and gas since the 5th November, 2021.

Kabiru said: “Under the leadership and guidance of President Buhari, this great and challenging feat has been achieved. We also thank very immensely the Minister of State for Petroleum Chief Timipre Sylva who promptly visited the site for a first hand report to the President leading to appropriate steps being taken. Our gratitude also goes to AITEO and all the Engineers it mobilized from all over the world to accomplish this.”

On her part, the Executive Director of Programs, African Centre for Justice and Human Rights, Chinomso Nduka Edede, praised AITEO’s technical ingenuity in stopping the leak.

Edede said AITEO exhibited extra ordinary technical capacity which no other company can if faced with similar challenges noting that AITEO put the people first at al times and not money or business.

She also commended the people of Nembe who in the face of the challenges stood together and helped one another to pull through saying that was the spirit that was worthy of emulation for all Nigerians.