The proliferation of undeveloped and deserted oil wells and other assets owned by international oil corporations is a growing source of anxiety in the Niger Delta area.

According to experts, the circumstance created significant risks to the health and ecology of the communities that produce oil.

Allegedly, more than 32 oil wells in Akwa Ibom State have been left unattended.

The towns of Oko, Okoroette, and Utapete are where you may find the facilities.

Along with that, approximately 21.26 million barrels of hydrocarbons were left untapped at the onshore oilfield in Oloibiri, Ogbia Local Government Area, Bayelsa State.

Addressing the matter, Dr. Nninmo Bassey, an environmental expert, brought attention to the fact that several well-heads, manifolds, flow stations, and pipelines spread throughout the Niger Delta need replacement and decommissioning after lying idle for decades.

Bassey urged the international oil companies to take environmental protection and the welfare of local Nigerians into account while making decisions on the future of abandoned oil wells and other underutilized or outdated equipment.

He claims that the IOCs and the NNPC should decommission and remove numerous wellheads, manifolds, flow stations, and pipelines from communities all around the Niger Delta region.

These abandoned buildings endanger human health, pollute groundwater, and have an effect on ecosystems.

According to the finest international standards, all disused oil facilities must be decommissioned and removed in accordance with Nigerian laws and regulations. These needs are frequently disregarded.

As an example, Bassey used the blow of Aiteo’s Nembe/Santa Barbara Well-1 in the Santa Barbara River, in OML 29 (Bayelsa State), to say that the situation is like a time bomb that has started to burst.

Official and industry estimates put the amount of oil spilled at less than 5,000 barrels, despite the 39-day Santa Barbara blow.

“According to independent experts, the monumental incident resulted in the spillage of more than half a million barrels of hydrocarbon fluids, gas, and oil,” he further stated.

Noting that there have been multiple well-head leaks recorded across the region, he also mentioned the ageing Trinity Spirit FSPO, which exploded and sank in February 2022.

Additionally, he brought up the unattended “Ororo-1 well Fire in Ondo state in shallow water Oil Mining Lease (OML) 95” and asked that it be put out.

“The Ororo-1 well’s past has been filled with ups and downs. Reportedly, pressure problems forced Chevron Corporation to seal off this oil well in the 1980s, after it had been drilled.

Owena Oil & Gas Ltd, a company based in Ondo State, and Guarantee Petroleum were granted the well in 2003 as a marginal field. However, in 2019, the award was supposedly revoked due to the fact that the field had not been fully developed and brought to production by the end of the extension period, which ended in April 2019.

The DPR was sued by Owena Oil & Gas Ltd for revoking the license.

To add intrigue, the new ‘owners’ re-entered the hole in 2020, and the terrible blowout happened on May 15, 2020.

Keep in mind that Chevron capped the well decades after it was re-entered. By the time the tragedy occurred, the Nigerian government had already canceled Guarantee Petroleum’s rights to the field, thus it was essentially taking control of the fire.

According to experts, the primary well’s Blow Out Preventer (BOP) and the one between the pipe and the well’s skin both failed, which led to a rapid release of hydrocarbons at high pressure, which caused the blow out.

“Since the blow out on the Hydraulic Workover rig (Grace-1 HWU) hired by Guarantee Petroleum, there has been a constant inferno and an accompanying oil spill.”

Bassey urged the federal government to investigate the disturbing pattern of abandonment, noting that it happens in the solid minerals industry as well as the oil and gas sector, as evidenced by the tin mines of Jos and the coal mines of Enugu.

The expert claimed that the dysfunctional petroleum sector had been worsened and that the IOCs’ hazardous corporate behaviour had been enabled by the Federal Government’s over-reliance on the IOCs.

The Nigerian government’s reliance on international oil companies (IOCs) and oil profits has led to a corrupt, opaque, and strategically flawed petroleum industry.

This is the fundamental enabler of the careless business practises that are common in the industry and, by implication, the country.

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