allAfrica.com: Shell Stops Ogoni Pipeline Fire: “The development came as Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) fire fighters finally gained access to the scene of the fire and put it out, after an initial attempt was allegedly impeded by militant Ogoni youths.” (ShellNews.net)
Daily Champion (Lagos)
Tony Ita Etim and Sopuruchi Onwuka
Lagos, Port Harcourt
Posted October 15, 2004
RIVERS State Government is to investigate the cause of last Sunday's oil spillage and pipeline fire in two Ogoni communities, Mohdo and Goi.
The development came as Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) fire fighters finally gained access to the scene of the fire and put it out, after an initial attempt was allegedly impeded by militant Ogoni youths.
Shell said the incident on the pipeline, labelled the Trans-Niger Crude Oil Pipeline, would cost the nation the loss of an additional 13,000 barrels (or N87.1 million) per day, until the leak points on the pipeline are clamped and activities resume.
President of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), Mr. Ledum Mitee, had on Tuesday told Daily Champion that the spill was "a nightmare of immense proportions" and had devastated farmlands, fish ponds and others.
Daily Champion also visited the spill and fire sites to witness the devastation.
No life was, however, lost.
Meanwhile, Rivers State Commissioner for the Environment Dr. (Mrs.) Roseline Konya said the government would get to the root of the incident.
Konya, an Ogoni, claimed that the oil spillage and subsequent fire outbreak were not due to natural, machine failure or ruptured pipeline.
The commissioner vowed that the ministry will investigate the cause of the fire at Goi and the spill at Mohdo, both communities in Gokana council area of the state.
According to Konya, she was surprised that the fire broke out at a fishing pond at Goi instead of the scene of the spill at Mohdo which is some distance away.
She told Daily Champion yesterday afternoon that SPDC had informed her that the fire had been put out but because her own staff are on strike, she could not confirm the claim.
The commissioner also disclosed that as at yesterday afternoon, SPDC officials were still trying to clamp the leak point of the pipeline.
On October 10, residents of Goi and Mohdo reported that there was a spill at the Trans Niger Trunk pipeline, behind the camp of Gitto Construction Company, handling the Bodo-Benin Road.
Pressure from the pipeline allegedly went as high as 40 metres and soaked vegetation within some distance from the pipeline. But next day, at about 10.00am, there was a fire outbreak at Dooh stream in Goi village.
The fire which destroyed farmlands, palm trees, cassava farms and other economic trees, was still raging as at Wednesday morning.
When Daily Champion visited the scenes on Tuesday, frustrated firefighters from SPDC were spotted at the site as they gave up attempt to put out the fire.
At the pipeline site, SPDC workers were seen trying to clamp the pipeline and one of the earth-moving vehicles that would have been used to dig up the ground for the clamping, was stuck in the mud.
Shell, Nigeria's biggest oil exploration and production joint venture operator, had said in a statement, Tuesday, that its fire fighting contractors were denied access to the fire scene, causing the fire to spread with the spill across ponds and nearby farms in the area.
The company has in the past few years been suffering series of vandalisation on its joint venture facilities and recording production cut back average of over 60,000 barrels per day.
However, Shell said in another statement yesterday that if finally got community permission to work on the sites and had battled to reduce the intensity of the fire.
The company said subsequent inspection of the leaking pipeline confirmed that the spill resulted from a hacksaw cut on its 24-inch pipeline, making a switch to an alternate 28-inch pipeline at two manifolds in Bomu and Ogale.
The switch, which is expected to address the leakage, entails a production cutback of about 13,000 barrels per day but Shell said a higher cutback of 20,000 barrels per day had initially been envisaged.
"We are progressing action to put out the fire, clamp the leak, recover the spillage," the company stated yesterday.
No cost estimate of both the loss and remediation activities was given but Daily Champion gathered from an inspectorate source that a couple of million dollars would be wiped from joint venture accounts.