ERA/FoEN received information from community contacts at Sangana community on 29th September, 2017 that, Aunty Julie – Conoil’s offshore platform within the community’s waters was gutted on the night of 28th September 2017. The inferno was still on at the time information reached ERA/FoEN. Apart from the first source, ERA/FoEN received confirmation promptly from two other contacts within the community.
Sangana community is part of Akassa Clan in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State and, the community was also impacted by the KS Endeavor explosion/fire at Chevron’s North Apoi gas well facility in 2012 which caused pollution of the environment and death of aquatic lives. The community folks also lost their livelihood which is mainly fish farming.
Barr. Benjamin Ayibatonye the Chairman of the Community Development Committee [CDC] of Sangana ‘’There is fire outbreak from Aunty Julie, the Conoil platform in Sangana at about 3:00am this morning. The fire ensued from the production tanks and is below the platform. A man name Peter, an Itsekiri man from Delta State got an injury on his leg and is being treated at the Sangana Cottage hospital. Every crew member has been evacuated to the gunboat around the Aunty Julie platform. However, a fire fighter vessel is on the way from the Chevron field to put off the fire now. A man named, Blessing [other name unknown], a Supervisor on board the platform is with the man who sustained the injury in the cottage hospital’’
As per the possible cause of the fire, the CDC Chairman said ‘’ Cause of the fire was as a result of pressure from the Koluama end that they were unable to manage; that caused the incident’’
Not so clear as per what pressure, ERA/FoEN asked for clarification and, the CDC Chairman replied thus, ‘’Pressure on the crude pipeline to Aunty Julie’’
FIRE PUT OUT:
As at the time of concluding this brief report, the CDC Chairman confirmed that the fire has been extinguished. According to him, ‘’The fire has been put off from burning Aunty Julie platform at about 10:30am to 11:00am. For now there is little or nothing I can say about our environmental concerns. I will get back to you later with more details on this; if the need arises.’’
ERA however, suggested that the environment be monitored and observed for the next two days; even if there might not be anything observed as unusual for now.
Although the immediate and remote cause of the fire incident has not be officially made public, it is important to note that, since there was no breach of the facilities from a third party, the incident is most likely another operational failure case. There is need for more caution on the part of operators. Besides, all such facilities ought to have some reasonable level of firefighting equipment to contain emergency situations before they spread or becomes overwhelming.
Photos obtained from community sources at about 10:00am on 29th September, 2017