CHEVRON Nigeria Limited has promised that the Ojumole Well fire would be put out very soon.

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ACCORDING to Esimaje Brikinn, who spoke during the public hearing at the Ondo State House of Assembly, on Tuesday, May 21, 2019, 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,” Brikinn said.

In his remarks, Brikinn 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.

A fisherwoman fishing at Ojumole
A fisherwoman fishing at Ojumole

Clarifying what the company has been doing over the past 35 days while the fire has been burning, Birkinn noted that 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 Resources 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 explained that “Chevron has been responding to the issues within regulatory requirement” and the 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, did not take it easy with the oil company.

He said that the aim of establishing the adhoc committee was to be an independent arbiter and that 35 days were more than enough time for the oil major to put out the fire and asked what the oil company would do to ease the pains of impacted communities.

The speaker’s statement was in line with the demands of the Ilaje people from communities around Ojumole, who are asking for a sum of $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 the smoky environment.

In his response, the Chevron General Manager, Esimaje, assured the house that independent Health and Environment experts as well as representatives of the National Oil Spill Detection and the Department of Petroleum Resources were 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 said.

 An itinerant trader plying his trade near Ojumole
An itinerant trader plying his trade near Ojumole

The General Manager also said that Chevron, as one of the leading producers of oil in the country, “is a law-abiding company”.

He noted that the company has been doing its business legitimately and with prompt payment of taxes to appropriate quarters.

He promised that the company would continue to work with the host communities and bring necessary amenities to them, adding that Chevron currently gives more that N50 million in annual scholarships and is even working on a Mother and Child special hospital worth over 200 million to Ilaje people.

In his concluding remarks, the Speaker charged Chevron to do everything possible to quench the fire, which he said, had affected the socioeconomic activities of people living in the areas.

He 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 on the way forward in subsequent meeting.

BE

– May 22, 2019 @ 16:14 GMT |

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