YENAGOA, Nigeria (Reuters) – Nigeria’s Aiteo Eastern E&P has reported an “extremely high order” oil spill from a jointly owned well in the Niger Delta and has had to abort immediate efforts to control the leak due to the pressure emanating from the well head.
The well, which in Bayelsa State and is not in production, is jointly owned by Aiteo and state oil company NNPC.
The cause of the leak, which was discovered last Friday, has not yet been determined but Aiteo did not rule out crude oil theft leaks and sabotage.
Oil spills, sometimes due to vandalism, sometimes to corrosion, are common in the Niger Delta, a vast maze of creeks and mangrove swamps criss-crossed by pipelines and blighted by poverty, pollution, oil-fuelled corruption and violence.
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“The magnitude of this incident is of an extremely high order. Immediate efforts to control the leak were aborted due to the high pressure emanating from the well head,” Aiteo said in a statement late on Tuesday.
In Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer, oil spills have had a catastrophic impact on many communities where people have no other water supply than creeks and rely on farming and fishing for survival.
Aiteo said it had reported the incident to regulators and mobilised a team of local and international control specialists to try to close the leak.
The well, is part of the assets that Aiteo purchased from Royal Dutch Shell in 2015, company spokesman Ndiana Matthew said.
Oil companies in Nigeria have run into problems trying to clean up spills, sometimes because of obstruction and even violence by local gangs trying to extract bigger payouts, or to obtain clean-up contracts.
(Reporting by Tife Owolabi in Yenagoa and Camillus Eboh in Abuja; Writing by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Alison Williams)