BAYELSA GOVT TACKLES AGIP OVER AZUZUZAMA PIPELINE FIRE DISASTER ….Calls for Forensic Investigation….Expresses worry over spill statistics of 656 in 2014 in Bayelsa
Bayelsa State Government has called for a comprehensive forensic investigation into the AGIP pipeline explosion that claimed 13 lives, including a staff of the State Ministry of Environment and security personnel.
Speaking at a meeting with officials of the Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NAOC, in Yenagoa on Monday, Governor Seriake Dickson, who made the call, expressed displeasure over reports at his disposal indicating the company’s lack of compliance to environmentally accepted standards in its operations in the state.
He vowed that the state government would not hesitate to explore all legal means to seek redress over the sad incident and serial abuse of the environment, should the outcome of the final report by the investigating team, which will comprise experts from all relevant agencies, indict NAOC.
The Governor, who urged oil companies and other corporate organisations to operate in line with international standards, expressed dismay at the absence of NAOC’s Managing Director at the meeting, stressing that, henceforth he would want to deal with the Chief Executive Officer in discussing any weighty mutual issues, where binding decisions are to be taken.
While consoling the families that lost their loved ones to the incident, Governor Dickson restated his administration’s commitment to the protection of the environment against any further destruction by oil companies and perpetrators of pipeline vandalism.
According to the Governor, “In this government, we are concerned about the environment. The statistics that have been read out is alarming, to say the least. I can’t imagine in this state, how from your facilities alone, 656 spills occurred in one year. That means, almost 3 spills at 3 different sites occur everyday of the year. That is very troubling even though I know that the activities of some of our people also contribute to it.
” In view of the litany of complaints against most of the oil companies here, and in particular about AGIP from all stakeholders-security, communal and government, the Government of Bayelsa State is interested in a full forensic investigation. Like I said earlier, I don’t want to prejudge the final report that will come.
” But if the investigation concludes that your company has not or is not doing enough in terms of observing environmentally accepted standards, the Government of Bayelsa State will not hesitate in taking all legal measures to ensure that you are brought to account including moving for a revocation of your license to operate here.
Earlier, some state officials including the Commissioner for Environment, Mr Iniruo Wills, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Kemasuode Wodu and Special Adviser on Security, Mr Boma Spero-Jack, decried AGIP’s alleged poor environmental management practices and lack of transparency in its operations.
In the same vein, a representative of the Director General of the National Oil Spill Detection and Recovering Agency (NOSDRA), Mr Dipo Obanewa and a Zonal Head, NOSDRA, Sir Cyrus Nkangwung, while confirming the loss of one of its officials to the tragic incident, supported the state government’s position to constitute a crack team to investigate the cause of the explosion.
On their part, the leader of the delegation and General Manager District, Mr Paolo Carnevale and Managing Director of MW Vowgas Limited, the contracting firm handling the Azuzuzama spill site, Mr Godwin Izomor, said the cause of the fire that sparked the explosion remains unknown..