The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has mandated the Shell Petroleum Company of Nigeria (SPDC) to clear bushy pipelines and maintain its Right of Way (RoW) around Elebele, Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State over gas leakage.
The group made this known in a field report released by its Head, Bayelsa Office, Mr. Alagoa Morris over gas leak incident in the community and its environment.
The report maintained the incident was believed to have been orchestrated by acts of vandals, who took advantage of the bushy RoW to carry out their criminal act.
The report further showed that the gas leak released a particular offensive odour which saturated the air around Elebele and neighbouring communities of the State.
The group maintained that as a result of the offense odour and saturation, there was panic amongst residents of the communities, who feared that fire outbreak or an epidemic could occur.
ERA/FoEN, however, pointed out that the inability of SPDC to clear grasses and shrubs around the facility in Elebele had left the RoW bushy and untidy.
They buttressed that such situation could provide cover for vandals to breach pipelines.
“At the Elebele gas leak site, ERA/FoEN monitor was surprised to know that such oil/gas-bearing pipelines are laid along that stretch of land.
“With the pipeline having overgrown shrubs and grasses, only those who actually know the exact spots the oil/gas pipeline was laid could trace and dig the real spots and execute their mission,
aided by bushy environment for cover.
“And according to one of those who led ERA/FoEN to the site, the pipes on this pipeline were replaced no too long ago, meaning they are new pipes. That the signs of digging were very obvious and the incident happened in the afternoon, is a testimony that the vandals took advantage of the bushy environment to perpetrate the act,” the report said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Godfrey Obi from the community urged the SPDC to take the maintenance of the RoW seriously as a matter of urgency.
“Actually, our demand as a community is that the SPDC should put an eye on their facility. You can imagine where a Shell pipeline is passing and there is no contractor clearing the line, no surveillance contractor that is taking care of the line.
“What actually happened (the gas leak) was a threat to human life because tricycles, motorcycles and vehicles are plying this road. And you can imagine what could have happened if there was a little spark. So, we are calling on the SPDC to engage surveillance contractor and someone who will be clearing the pipeline to scare away vandals,” Obi said.