Yenagoa - The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) says the delays experienced in the oil spill response at its Adibawa oil fields are regrettable.
SPDC said on Monday that the oil leakage from its oil fields located in Edagberi Community in Rivers was caused by thieves who targeted the Well Head.
A statement from, Mr Joseph Obari, SPDC spokesman attributed the leakage at Adibawa-well-8 in the Eastern Niger Delta, to activities of vandals.
It also alleged that members of its host community were thwarting the efforts of the oil firm to contain the leakage and remediate the polluted environment.
"SPDC received reports of the incident on July 12 and took containment measures, including the construction of dykes, pits and the deployment of booms to prevent further impact on the environment.
"The leakage was stopped on July 15 but attempts to conduct the statutory Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) on July 16 and July 17 to determine the cause and extent of the leakage was unsuccessful.
"The leadership of the Edagbiri Betterland Community prevented the representatives of industry regulatory agencies, the Rivers Ministry of Environment and SPDC from accessing the site for containment and crude oil recovery operations.
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"Without the JIV, SPDC cannot carry out needed repairs or proceed to clean up and remediate the site," the statement stated.
SPDC stated that it was concerned that leaving the contained crude in the environment, created avoidable danger of fire and seepage further into the ground.
The statement quoted, Igo Weli, SPDC’s General Manager, External Relations, as saying that timely access to the spill site was fundamental to an effective spill response.
"The quicker we can recover the exposed crude oil, the safer for the community and all other stakeholders," Weli stated in the statement.
However, Chief Sunny Ubele, Traditional Ruler of Edagberi Community, revealed on Monday that the allegation that the community denied SPDC access was false.
Ubele said the community cooperated with officials of the oil firm but expressed reservations when Shell officials attempted to manipulate the Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) procedure.
"It is very untrue that we denied them access, if we did how did they manage to stop the spill, they had fixed a JIV on our meeting day and we told them to fix it for the next day.
"When we got there with them, we found out they went to the site unilaterally and tampered with the evidences that would assist in arriving at conclusions.
"So, we told them that we were excluded from that exercise.
"We pointed out to them that they constituted a JIV without the community and we declined to sign the JIV reports because we were not part of it and the JIV was inconclusive.
"There is no truth in the allegations, today the council of chiefs met and restated that they should commence recovery of crude from the site," Ubele said.