Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has commended youths for putting out the fire on Conoils offshore platform, named Auntie Julie off Bayelsa coastline in Akassa on September 29.
ERA/FoEN gave the commendation in a field report signed by Mr Alagoa Morris Head of its Field Operations and made available in Yenagoa on Tuesday.
According to the report, the Chairman, Community Development Committee (CDC) of Sangana area of Akassa, Mr Benjamin Ayibatonye said that community youths mobilised by and put out the fire when a distress call to Chevron fire fighters failed to respond.
The field report quoted Ayibatonye as saying,: Actually, at the end of the day, It was not the Chevron people who came and put off the fire.
“One Ene Owei, a fire fighter from Sangana community at about 9:00am on Friday, went to Aunty Julie, Conoil platform with a team of boys from the community to fight the fire and, did so for about two hours and was able to put the fire off at about 11:00am on the platform.
“It was in the presence of Engineer Oma, the Operational Manager of Conoil and one Mr. Bello Bina, who flew with helicopter to the platform.
“Thereafter, the team of boys was appreciated with a token of N1.5 million as a way of saying, well done by Engineer Oma
Owei who led the community youths to put out the fire is a fire fighter and works with the Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC) who was on off duty and in his community when this incident happened.
The NGO observed that the role played by Owei and other youths of Sangana community is highly commendable; not only for their bravery but considering the frosty relarions between oil companies and their host communities.
“This is a positive example of community assistance to oil operations. This is quite exemplary and worthy of commendation” ERA/FoEN stated.
The group however urged the oil firm and oil industry regulators to immediately constitute a Joint Investigation Team to conduct a Joint Investigation Visit with a view to unravel the cause of the fire incident.
“The regulators should ensure that gaps are bridged on issues relating to the oil industry operations. This incident should be investigated jointly as industrial policy demands.
“Sangana community should remain vigilant and report any strange environment phenomenon within this period to the authorities, especially NOSDRA and Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment; including Environmental groups like ERA/FoEN,” it stated.