Cleanup of the Atlantic Shoreline in Akwa Ibom, southern Nigeria, contaminated by an oil spill on Dec. 19, within Qua Iboe oil fields is...

Cleanup of the Atlantic Shoreline in Akwa Ibom, southern Nigeria, contaminated by an oil spill on Dec. 19, within Qua Iboe oil fields is yet to begin three weeks after the spill was reported.

Residents of Ibeno coastal settlement which host the Qua Iboe fields said that the marine environment had been left at the mercy of tidal waves spreading the crude deposits farther along the coastline.

Several oil spill incidents had been recorded at the oil field on Aug. 13, Aug. 24. Nov. 9 , Dec 16 and Dec. 19, 2012.

The oil field from where the spill emanated is operated by the Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN), the Nigerian unit of US oil firm ExxonMobil.

MPN presently exports an average 600,000 barrels of crude daily from its two oil blocks from the Qua Iboe oil export terminal.

Residents at the coastal settlements on the Atlantic coastline who reacted on the development and its implications decried the insensitivity of the oil firm in abandoning the spill reported to the MPN officials since the middle of December 2012.

“We started seeing fresh oil deposits since Dec. 16, and we reported to Mobil and they came to inspect and collected samples of the oil. But up till now, they have not responded to clean it up. And the dynamic nature of the the tide at this time of the year has not helped matters. The tide has been flushing the oil to other places and this is worsening the situation,” John Etim, a resident and community leader in Iwuokpom community in Ibeno said.

Ikpe Jonathan, who works for an oil services firm at the oil field, told our correspondent by phone from the offshore crude facility that the December oil spill emanated from the ruptured pipeline that caused the earlier spill of November 9.

“The source of the oil came from the same pipeline they claimed to have fixed, the pipeline discharged more oil when the divers tried unsuccessfully to repair the leak, the entire pipeline network lacks integrity and needs total replacement and not patchwork that they are currently doing. Rather than do the right thing which is to replace the pipelines, Mobil officials keep cutting corners because the only thing the government cares about is the oil money and not the safety of the environment,” Jonathan said.

MPN had confirmed a reported spill within its operations at the Qua Iboe oil fields in Akwa Ibom and pledged to clean up the impacted areas immediately.

The pledge in the statement below credited to Mobil management remains unfulfilled as observed in Ibeno coastline.

“Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPN), operator of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation/MPN Joint Venture, confirms that on Dec. 19, community representatives notified the company of slight oiling on short sections of the shoreline of Ibeno, Akwa Ibom. MPN immediately deployed a team to inspect the site and samples of the oiling were taken for analysis to help determine the source. Sections of shoreline with any oiling will be cleaned immediately. MPN restates its commitment to maintaining high safety, health and environmental standards in our operations and is committed to the well-being of our neighbouring communities,” the oil firm stated.

It was gathered that the oil firm also suspended mop up exercise at the areas affected by an earlier spill incident which occurred on Nov. 9.

Arodiegwu Eziukwu