Contacted, the Movement for the Survival Of Ogoni People (MOSOP) dismissed as untrue allegations that the community raised objection to Shells entry to the area.
Fire has broken out on Yorla Well Head 13, belonging to Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in Kpean community of Khana Local Government Area, Rivers State, without implications for Nigerias total crude oil output.
Vanguard could not ascertain at press time if the inferno was a result of sabotage or lack of maintenance. Shell pulled out of Ogoni land over 10 years ago leaving its facilities at the mercy of the elements.
Contacted, Mr. Bisi Ojediran, SPDCs Head of Communications confirmed the development, adding that the company had tried to access the area but was prevented by the community.
We are talking to governement and the community people to gain access. We are not operating in that area, so it does not affect production. The fire is on the well head and we have undertaken a helicopter fly-over to access the situation. It is a well head that is on fire and it has not affected the environment.
We are certain that we can put it out as soon as we are given access to the well head.
"We are conscious of the ongoing reconciliation process and we do not want anything that will be misconstrued as a unilateral action to enter the area and resume production, he said.
Another SPDC official who spoke on the basis of anonymity in Port Harcourt said the company was trying to avoid a situation where its equipment might be seized by community youths or anybody.
After an investigation by a Joint Investigation Team that would be made up of the government, the community and the oil company, we can say what really happened, the official said.
Contacted, the Movement for the Survival Of Ogoni People (MOSOP) wondered why the Anglo-Dutch oil giant had not put out the inferno.
Mr. Ledum Mitee, President of MOSOP speaking on the development said he had alerted the company and government agencies.
He dismissed as untrue allegations that the community raised objection to Shells entry to the area, noting that if there was sabotage it would certainly not have come from the farmers affected by the incident because they would never benefit from the outcome.
I am not saying there is no sabotage but if there was, it would certainly not be the peasant farmers whose farms are affected by the spill because they stand to gain nothing from it.
"Nobody is preventing anybody. I took the responsibility to alert the establishments concerned of the outbreak. If anybody says they have a problem entering the place, they should seek our assistance. But if they (the community people) truly have objection, then it is because of the attitude of the company in the past where they come, clean up and fail to pay compensation, he said.
Vanguard also gathered that an NNPC pipeline in Ogale community, Eleme has been spilling petroleum product since August 2. Efforts by the company to address the problem has not yielded any positive result.
Shell pulled out of Ogoni land following an upsurge in the activities of the MOSOP demanding greater share reparations from the Anglo/Dutch oil giant and the Federal Government for years of oil exploration and production leading up to environmental degradation and despoliation.