Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) and the communities impacted by the crude oil spill from Funiwa oil fields in Koluama in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State have been sharply divided over where the crude oil leakage noticed over the weekend was coming from.
The crude oil spill suspected to be from Funiwa oil fields was been reported by fishermen operating near the Atlantic Ocean coastline last Sunday.
While the fishermen from CNL host community, Koluama, claim the leak is from Chevron oil fields, Chevron denied the claim.
The General Manager, Policy, Government and Public Affairs, at Chevron, Esimaje Brikinn, said there was no oil leakage from its operations in Bayelsa State.
According to him, “Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL), operator of the joint venture between the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and CNL (the NNPC/CNL JV), confirms that there has been no oil spill incident at any of its facilities in Bayelsa State.”
However, a community leader in Koluama 1, Chief Young Fabby, told journalists in Yenagoa that the denial by Chevron was a ploy to evade liability for the leak and associated pollution.
He said Chevron had deployed several helicopters to apply chemical dispersants to dissolve and breakdown the crude oil deposits on the water surface in a bid to cover up the spill.
Fabby said: “The oil company equally used the navy and other security personnel to ward off fishermen who tried to take photographs and video of the exercise being carried out by the helicopters.
“If there was no leak, why did they deploy naval personnel and soldiers to cordon off the area?
“We are precise about the location of the oil discharge; it is at Well No 5 within the Funiwa field location, and we have the video clips of the leakage, and wondered why Chevron is denying this incident.
“They have been using chemicals without first informing the regulators and the community. I am at the coastline, and we have a heap of nets stained with crude oil which has hit the coast.”
Mr. Mathew Sele-Epri, also from an impacted community, said the community leadership would appeal to the state Ministry of Environment to determine the source.
“All the companies near the spot, Chevron and Conoil, have denied ownership of the crude oil, and we now wonder who has the oil that is spilling. We are going to engage the state ministry of environment to help us track the source,” he stated.