Wednesday, 22 May 2013
Fishermen Report Spill From Total Platform Nearing Akwa Ibom Coast
Peasant fishermen operating in the eastern Obollo flank of the Atlantic are reporting an oil slick believed to be from Total Exploration and Production, the Nigerian subsidiary of the French energy firm, Total Elf.
The spill is believed to have occurred at Odudu Platform owned by Total off the Atlantic coast in eastern Obollo, Akwa Ibom state.
The spill follows on the heels of a major destructive one from Shell’s Bonga deep sea oil field which polluted the Atlantic and threw thousands of local fishermen out of work without assistance from the government which favors oil profits for sustenance.
Calls into Sahara Reporters from the eastern Obollo coastal community in Akwa Ibom revealed that the leak was an operational accident which the crew concealed from the management of the oil company.
It was gathered from oil field workers that large volumes of oil frequently leak into the ocean, damaging marine life unbeknownst to the ill-equipped regulators.
“The spill did occur but I can tell you that Total will neither get the report nor will the regulators as such spills are usually hidden by the workers on duty for fear of losing their jobs when it is discovered that there was a spill during their shift.
“Since the regulators lack the means of monitoring what goes on in the oil fields there is no point reporting the incident to them, that is the practice across the oil industry in Nigeria,” a Sahara Reporters source said.
Fishermen from the community on Wednesday told Sahara Reporters that they sighted crude oil deposits on the waters while on a fishing expedition earlier in the week and that the oil deposits landed at the coastline today.
“The fishermen have been at the receiving end of environmental atrocities committed by international oil companies operating in Nigeria where nobody cares for the environment.
“Last month it was Shell’s Bonga spillage, today it is Total and the government does not do anything to bring the oil companies to take responsibilities for the pollution they cause. The poor fishermen are left to suffer while things are swept under the carpet,” Joh Etim, a community leader said.
National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) officials were ignorant of the spill incident when contacted for their response to the reported oil spill in Total’s Odudu crude oil platform.
The regulators are hampered by the fact that they depend on the oil companies to transport them in their aircrafts to the oil fields and they only oblige the regulator when they have cleaned up the oil deposits from the spill sites.