Nigerian energy giant, Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company (AEEPCo) has successfully quelled a fire in the vicinity of its Nembe Creek Well-7, thereby averting danger to the communities in the area.
The fire started in the early hours of Friday March 1, 2019 behind Mile 1 community in Bayelsa State.
According to sources close to the site, Aiteo responded to emergency calls from the community and mobilized its team to the area. It was later discovered that the fire was caused by an explosion at the oil company’s Well-7, which produces about 3,500 barrels per day. The fire went out around 1:30 pm on Friday, dousing the panic earlier generated by the incidence in the community.
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Initial reports in the press claimed that scores of people were missing in the incidence, which caused tension among the indigenes of the communities in the area.
However, according to a source close to the company, who spoke from the area, the initial media reports on the incidence were untrue.
“Although we are still investigating the cause of the fire, what has been reported in the media is largely false and misleading. We have confirmed from the community that no lives were lost, no property was damaged, and nobody is missing,” the source said.
”Fortunately for the company, the fire was at a location where there were no human elements and other assets belonging to the community. The fire was pretty much under control within a few hours without damage to anyone. The report in the media alluding to loss of life is just sensational reporting,” the source added.
These assertions have also been corroborated by some members of the community, who blamed the media reports on some unscrupulous individuals.
“Aiteo is trying its best and has always done so to have a cordial working relationship with the community. Contrary to the earlier media reports, we have not recorded any deaths in this incidence. However, there will be certain elements who have criminalized these things and will continue to look for ways to siphon money through them,” a community member who pleaded anonymity said.
“Now, things are calm and peaceful, and the company is free to carry on work as usual. I’m sure any moment from now the facility will be working as they usually move fast to fix these things,” he added.
Crude oil and gas fires, mostly caused by theft and pipeline sabotage and leading to huge losses for oil companies and the government, are quite common in the Niger Delta
Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, speaking at an event on 15 April 2016, estimated that around 250,000 barrels of oil was stolen daily. Even at the time, the value of that level of theft, on a daily basis, was approximately N5 Billion.
In February 2007, the Egwa Flow station in Warri South local government council area of Delta State, was gutted by fire when an Oil Well Head went up in flames .
Militants fighting for a larger share of the country’s oil resources have also been involved in setting fires to oil installations. In October 2016, attackers set fire to a crude oil pipeline near Ughelli in Delta state, threatening more attacks until their conditions are met.