The Paramount Ruler and the Indigenes of the Ikarama Community of Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State has threatened a show down with the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) over the dispute claims on the causes of the crude oil spillage from the Adibawa-Okordia delivery line in the area.

While the indigenes of the Ikarama Community argued that though they have been tagged the community with the highest frequency of oil spillages in Bayelsa mostly due to equipment failures and corrosion, the position of SPDC on alleged third party interference despite verifiable evidence from the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) is provocative and vexatious.

The Paramount Ruler of the Community, Chief Lamye Herbert Alfred and owners of properties impacted by the crude oil spillage in Ikarama Community told newsmen in Yenagoa during the media interaction tagged “Resisting Regulatory Capture” organized by the Environmental Right Action/Friends of the Earth(ERA/FoEN),declared that after series of correspondence to the management of the SPDC to won up and accept responsibility towards compensation and remediation failed, they have resolved to shut down the Shell facility in the area.

In his speech, the Head, Bayelsa Office of the ERA/FoEN, Comrade Morris Alagoa, said the decision of the safe environment advocacy group is to intervene in the ongoing Ikarama community and SPDC dispute and discourage any attempts at regulatory capture, “one of the main area of disagreement between stakeholders in the oil industry is the cause of spill as a lot depends on it. While there is nothing wrong in any stakeholder contesting whatever is declared as cause of spill, there are certain things to be considered in arriving at declaring the cause.”

“In the Nigeria oil industry, regulators are supposed to be referees. They are the NOSDRA and the State Ministries of Environment. From our record, the IKARAMA community is the community with the highest frequency of documented oil spills, with most of the spills declared officially as caused by the third party interference by the regulators. However, while accusing fingers are also pointed at the SPDC staff/contractors as instigating some of the spills. There have been few officially documented cases of equipment failure either caused by corrosion and faulty valve.”

He also noted that the oil spill incident at the SPDC owned Adibawa-Okordia delivery line on the 12th of November, 2011 was one of the clear cases of corrosion incident. The current spill incident in contention occurred in November, 2019 as flood of tha year was receding. At the time of the spill discovered, accessibility was only via canoe and the height of flood was water was at the chest level for an adult. Besides, the fact that the spill was discovered at 6’o’clock point of the pipe, after evacuation in the presence of shell regulators, community folks and soldiers provoked the people when SPDC claimed the spill was caused by third party as against community position of equipment failure.”

The Youth Leader of the Ikarama Community, Comrade Wada Benjamin, while faulting the allege adoption of Divide and rule tactics by the management of the SPDC, claimed that the current spill under contention destroyed over 1,000 hectares of lands, farms, ponds and lakes within the community, ”the spill destroyed large hectares of lands, farms, fishing nets and others in the community.”

While the representative of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) in the State, Comrade David-West declared support to the community decision to embark on mass action against the SPDC, a former Director, Petroleum Pollution in the Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment, Engr. J.A.Banks, however called on the indigenes of the Ikarama community to tow the part of peaceful resolution of the dispute and seek option of prevailing on the state government to intervene instead of shutting down the SPDC production line in the area.