Chevron Nigeria Limited has announced that the Ojumole Well fire would be put out very soon. According to Esimaje Brikinn, who spoke during the public hearing at the Ondo state House of Assembly, recently, said that the fire is a technical fire which requires special handling and the oil major has brought in world class experts in oil firefighting to put out the fire. “We are currently working with world class Emergency Response contractors and have brought in equipment to safely put out the fire as quickly as possible.”
In his remarks, Esimaje, condemned the act of vandalism and theft at the oil well which led to the fire, in spite of the security put in place by the company to safeguard the Oil Well. He further clarified what the Company has been doing over the past 35 days while the fire has been burning. According to him, due to the peculiar terrain of the well location, Chevron is currently dredging a channel to the slot leading to the well head to enable the heavy equipment and men required to safely put out the fire, gain access to the well location. “We continue to keep all stakeholders, including the government, regulatory agencies, media and community leaders engaged on our efforts at putting out the fire,” he assured.
This position was supported by the Manager Department of Petroleum’s Area Office Warri, Oluwadahunsi Oluwagbotemi. The DPR technical expert advised that the international oil company be given time to put out the fire properly and in a safe way so as not to complicate the potential side effect of the fire. He further explained that “Chevron has been responding to the issues within the regulatory requirement” and DPR has been giving expedited approval to Chevron to do whatever it has to do to put out the fire.
The Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Bamidele Oleyelogun, who chaired the session, however is not taking it easy on the oil company. He started by establishing that the aim of the adhoc committee is to be an independent arbiter. He opined that thirty -five days were more than enough time for the Oil major to put out the fire and wanted to know what the oil company would do to ease the pains of impacted communities.
The speaker’s statement is in line with the demands of the Ilaje people from communities around Ojumole, who are asking for a sum of US$2.5 billion as compensation. In a presentation by their representative, Dr Akin Akinruntan, he gave a long list of the socio-economic and potential health impact of the fire on the Ojumole Community and the communities within 8 kilometers radius of the fire. He complained of contamination of potable water and a smoky environment.
In his response, the Chevron General Manager Esimaje, assured the house that the independent Health and Environment experts, as well as representatives of the National Oil Spill Detection and the Department of Petroleum Resources are the on site to observe the monitoring of the environment. “Our activities will be consistent with the relevant environmental laws, regulations and guidelines. We continue to conduct our operations safely, reliably and efficiently, with utmost consideration for protection of people and the environment,” he reiterated.
The General Manager further said that Chevron, as one of the leading producers of oil in the country, “Is a law-abiding company”. He said that it has been doing its business legitimately and with prompt payment of taxes to appropriate quarters. Brikinn promised that the company would continue to work with the host communities and bring necessary amenities to them adding that Chevron currently gives more than N50 million Naira in annual scholarships and is even working on a Mother and child special hospital worth over 200 million Naira to Ilaje people.
Concluding, the Speaker, Bamidele Oleyelogun, charged Chevron to do everything possible to quench the fire, which he said had affected the socioeconomic activities of people living in the areas. Oleyelogun charged the Company to ensure that it is relating with the right representatives of the people and ruled that the House Committee would visit the scene of the fire later this week for proper discussion and way forward in the subsequent meeting.