Nigeria seeks foreign assistance to stop a major oil spill

By William Clowes on 11/11/2021

(Bloomberg) - Nigeria said foreign experts are needed to help plug an oil spill reported earlier this month by local producer Aiteo Eastern E&P Co.

Initial efforts to contain the “high order” leak were “aborted due to the high pressure emanating” from a non-producing well head in the southern Bayelsa state, Lagos-based Aiteo said Tuesday. Aiteo, which bought the permit from a consortium headed by Royal Dutch Shell Plc six years ago, operates the license in a joint venture with state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp.

“There is a need to get experts from overseas to come in and do some kind of shut-in that would be required to kill that well,” Idris Musa, director general of Nigeria’s National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, said by phone. “The situation has been a bit difficult and complex for us to tackle right now.”

The field, known as Oil Mining License 29, produced about 27,000 barrels per day in 2020, according to information published by NNPC. Output, which had dropped to about 9,500 barrels a day by July, is transported via a pipeline to Shell’s Bonny export terminal.

It’s too early to determine the cause or size of the spill because hydrocarbon fumes are making it too dangerous to access the site in the Niger Delta, Musa said. Aiteo and the government have started recovering crude that’s been pouring into the river since Nov. 5, he said.

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