The oil rich coastal community of Sagana, Brass Local Government of Bayelsa State, yesterday protested over what they described as negligence and insensitivity from the federal government and Conoil, weeks after gas from an oil rig facility spewed unspecified quantity of gas into the environment. The community leaders, who protested to the facility through their boats, called on relevant authorities to compel Conoil, the owner of the rig to come to their aid as the coastal community is about to lose its main source of livelihood, which is fishing. At the peaceful protest to the deep blue sea where the rig is located, a few kilometers off the shores of Sangana, the locals threatened to shut down the operations of Conoil until further notice. While calling on the federal government and the international community to take action, they said the gas leakage from the oil and gas exploration activity of Conoil, has damaged aquatic life in the fishing community.
The livelihood of the people of Sagana and the neighboring communities is largely dependent on fishing. Like most communities in the Niger Delta, Sangana has abundance of natural gas and crude oil, but this is not commensurate with infrastructural development and other basic amenities. The Adriatic One Rig owned by Conoil, operators of Oil Mining Lease 59 which is located in the community had spewed an unspecified quantity of gas into the environment for almost three weeks before the leakage was brought under control.
A member of the Sangana National Council of Chiefs, Chief Moses Jonathan, said: “Aquatic life has been damaged. We can take you back to 1960, the Greenhouse explosion in USA. Even in Chicago. There was a lot of things that happened there and the government remedy the situation, but in our case, the company has shown some kind of laxity. They have not even replied to us and government is paying deaf ear.”
Another leader of the community, Chief Tekenah Dau, said: “We are today helpless. even Conoil, the parent body who own the drilling rig has refused listen to us.’
The Chairman of Community Development Council, Reuben Preboye, said they are also unhappy that since the incident, a Joint Investigative report has not been carried out by relevant agencies of government and the operators of the rig to ascertain the level of damage.
He said: “We demand immediate action. What we need are relief materials, medical teams as soon as possible and they have to think of a way of paying adequate compensation.”