Residents of Ogboinbiri Community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State yesterday became instant refugees, fleeing the area following a serious gas leakage from an oil facility operated by Italian firm, Agip.
Italian energy firm Eni, which operates in Nigeria as Nigerian Agip Oil Company, had shut down production of some 40,000 barrels of oil per day and it is suspected that the gas leakage may have been caused by the cessation.
SaharaReporters was informed that the leakage led to a rapid exodus of residents, with no response from the oil firm or the government.
Newton Daniel, an Ogboinbiri Community leader, said in Yenagoa that the incident occurred on Thursday and lasted into late Friday. "The gas leakage started about 8. pm Thursday. [It] came from an oil rig owned by Agip oil company and covered the whole area, and everybody fled the community," he told SaharaReporters on the phone.
He explained that the leadership of the community visited the rig shortly after the incident occurred and met with some workers at the site who confirmed that there had been a gas leakage from the rig.
He also confirmed that the community dispatched a delegation to meet with Agip officials at their platform near the community, but that the company was yet to respond to the incident in any form.
“We are leaving in the interest of our health and safety since the company does not care, we are afraid and pray that there is no fire incident while the leakage continues, it will spell doom and wipe out the settlement.
He said members of the community have been compelled to become refugees, as that is the only option open to them. “Most of us are in the care of our relatives in Yenagoa while the affluent now stay in hotels to monitor the development.”
Contacted, Agip spokesman Tajudeen Adigun declined to comment on the issue.