UZERE Oilspill: The true narrative between UZERE farmers versus Heritage Energy Operational Services Ltd

Bythecrusadersvoicetm

Apr 6, 2024

By Mercy Onyenweli / Paul Okojie

Following the Oilspill that occured sometime last year in UZERE Community in Isoko South LGA in Delta State, residents of the community has appealed to the operating Company in the area, Heritage Energy Operational Services Ltd to carry out proper clean up and Soil remediation in the affected farmland.

Scooping for News, the Clan and Crusaders Voice reporters gathered that some of the farmers in the community are yet to commence cultivation in their farm land this year, as a result of the poor clean up and remediation on the affected soil.

According to some of the farmers who claimed their farms and ponds were affected by the spill, revealed they can nolonger cultivate their farm lands due to the damage on the soil.

Probing futher our reporters contacted some of the affected farmers in the community, Mr. Peter Oghomomo, a farmer ,said the Oilspill occured 3killometers away from his farmland but because the clean up was not carried out immediately it happened, due to raining season, the Oilspill spread into his farm and many other farm lands and destroyed their farm produce for last year”.

“We are appealing to the management of Heritage Energy Operational Services to come to our rescue before the raining season  commence this year. ”

Another affected farmer, Prince Owohoro who lamented over the looming hunger that would befall the community if nothing drastic is done narrated how the spill affected his farm land.

“When the spill occurred, the management of Heritage Energy Operational Services with some representative of our community carried out a joint investigation visit (JIV) and it was discovered that 16 Uzere-Eriemu delivery pipeline was vandalized by third party infraction”

“They contracted the clean up and remediation to a contractor but little or nothing was done because it was raining season, so we petitioned the company that though we are peace loving people, we should not be taken for granted because hunger can push anyone to do the uninmaginable”.

On his part, the President General of UZERE kingdom, Prince Eholor further called on the Heritage Energy Operational Services to harken to the voice of the people and carry out proper clean up and remediation.

“Until the surface of the affected soil is properly scrapped off to the level the crude sinked into the Soil, there is nothing that will gemenate in those farm lands again”.

“To tell you the delicate nature of Oilspillage on our lives , if there is any spark of fire break out within that area, that soil will burn till the affected soil is consumed completely”.

“Recently, some farmers who were cultivating their lands for planting had fire in their land, before they say jack, the affected soil started burning. This fire lasted days and the people were scared of being consumed”.

Our Reporters further contacted the General Manager  of Government Joint Ventures & External Relations , Sola Adebawo , who explained that the company’s commitment to environmental stewardship and corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is one of the top priority package for the Operating company.

According to him, Heritage Energy Operational Services Ltd has spent over #67.4 billion ( Sixty-Seven Billion, four hundred million naira in cooperate Social Responsibility between 2019-2023

“Approximately 10% of the CSR budget #6.96billion was invested for the implementation of the GMOU across the OML 30 host communities “.

Contrary to the alleged claim of negligence raised by some members of the community, Mr. Sola said clean up was carried out immediately after the joint investigation visit was completed by representative of the community and the company.

” As a responsible Operator, any spill sighted in our area of operation is immediately addressed by way of clean up regardless of the cause or the source of spill, UZERE spill were not left out of this standard operating process”.

“We have recorded four (4) incidents of spill caused by third party infraction in our UZERE location, the last one occured on 15th of June, 2023, out of these four, one was caused by equipment failure”.

” The Joint Investigation was carried out immediately with the participation of relevant stakeholders ànd the outcome was fully signed by all Parties inline with regulatory requirements. Clean up and recovery commenced immediately and a substantial volume from estimated 20bbl spilled were recovered”.

Mr. Sola  further emphasized that despite the seasonal swampy terrain of UZERE Community, the company defied the constraint and commence the clean up activity which was monitored by regulators from a follow up visit to the site on 15th of June 2023- 19th of March, 2024.

“There was no visible or free phase hydrocarbon sited during the visit that will pose further threat to the environment or cause further spread of hydrocarbon to other communities. The process of soil remediation across impacted areas is ongoing. In terms of spill percolation, the site is predominantly of clay characteristics, making it difficult for deep percolation across most of the impacted surfaces”.

Speaking on the health packages provided for UZERE Community, Mr Kayode disclosed that the community is within the coverage area of the services provided by Igbide hospital which was renovated and being supported by OML 30 . “Drugs are supplied and monthly stipends are paid to health workers in the hospital by HEOSL.”.

He further revealed that reports gathered from regulators who monitored the site revealed that the spill did not spread further exception of already affected soil and so according to NOSDRA Act, the community do not qualify for any financial benefit due to third Party infraction.

“As a rule in the Industry and also as contained in NOSDRA Act (Section 26(2)), third Party infraction (sabotage) does not qualify for any financial benefits to the affected Communities”.

“We have specific requirements and recommendations governing how we identify and manage the environmental and social impacts/risks of all our projects.”

” HEOSL’s Corporate Social Responsibility strategy in OML 30 includes the promotion of active and enduring partnership, sharing of economic benefits created by our activities through the conduct of our community relationship as well as environmental stewardship”.

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