The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) yesterday revealed that the current gas leak rocking Sangama, a community in Rivers state, was caused by a third party breach.
The disclosure came 48 hours after a similar incident was reported in Bayelsa, allegedly following an explosion on the asset.
The spill was discovered along the Bayelsa Palm-New Otuoke Road near Yenagoa and was said to have happened around 11 pm on Monday.
On the Rivers incident, the NUPRC in a statement signed by its Chief Executive, Mr Gbenga Komolafe, hinted that fixing the pipeline may have been delayed due to the refusal of the community to endorse a document arising from a Joint Investigation Visit (JIV).
The statement noted that during the joint inspection, it was noticed that a portion of the asset had been tampered with by a third party, a revelation the community initially disagreed with.
Komolafe stressed that the NUPRC was earlier notified of the gas leak incident on the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) Well 6 facility in Bonny local government area of the state.
“Efforts are being made alongside other relevant agencies to deal with the situation,” he stated.
The NUPRC chief executive explained that the incident which was observed on September 3, 2022 at about 13:30 hours, was reported by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Exploration & Production Limited (NNPC E&P LTD) on September 9, 2022.
According to Komolafe, a JIV was carried out on September 11 by a team from the NUPRC, the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), the Rivers state ministry of environment as well as community representatives with the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) in attendance.
“During the JIV, the team observed a gas leak from one of the valves on the well head. A closer look revealed that the anode valve on the wellhead had been tampered with.
“It was adjudged by the regulators to have been caused by third party interference.
“However, the community did not agree with the regulators and as a result would not sign the joint investigation report in spite of the technical explanation by the team,” he explained.
This, he said, prompted the team to reconvene on September 15, 2022 when, after an extensive discussion, all stakeholders eventually signed the incident report.
“Efforts are on-going to prevent further leakage, repair the damage and ensure that the development does not in any way affect the health and social lives of the people of the area and does not negatively impact the environment,” he noted.
The gas leak is said to be causing panic on the Island community, with a number of residents having fled the area after reportedly witnessing a similar occurrence in the area in 2020.