Experts Insist Bayelsa Spill Impossible Without Meddling

Experts engaged in the assassination of the Santa Barbara Wellhead in Bayelsa State think that only purposeful intervention with the apparatus could have resulted in an interruption of its usual activities.

According to the engineers, the spillage, which has since been stopped, could only have resulted in that sort of event because the device had been tampered with.

They came to the conclusion that a wing valve put on a wellhead could not have gotten detached so quickly, and that the sort of action could only have been accomplished if unauthorised personnel had tampered with the facility.

The wing valve, which is part of a Christmas tree used to restrict inflow from an oil well, is a piece of flow-control equipment used in oil and gas operations.

The experts’ conclusions have been backed up by studies from the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) and the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), two key federal institutions that previously connected the spill to sabotage.

During a Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) to the Santa Barbara River, Nembe and both organizations on the on-site assessment of the wellhead agreed that unknown individuals must have tampered with them, resulting in the leak that allowed the blowout to happen with such force.

Mr. Adetoyinbo Adeyemi, a representative of the NURPC, claimed that an engineering analysis of the failed wellhead revealed that the pressure from the equipment was insufficient to trigger a blowout, resulting in the sort of consequences if it was not tampered with.

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He said that the wind valve is built to sustain exceptionally high pressure and could not have failed if it had not been tampered with, stating that because the plant was not producing at the time, the internal well pressure would have been very low.

“We are here to establish the cause of the incident that happened at the Santa Barbara well 1. From the findings, you can see that there’s no spill anymore. Where the spill came out from is from the wing valve.

“The wing valve has been replaced now. That means that the wing valve, the way it was, is not designed to fail like that because there are bolts surrounding it, well designed to keep the pressure in place.

“So, if it had not been taken off, there is no way it could have moved from there. When it was reported initially, there was no valve in that place, and none was found. So, to us, it is an act of sabotage,” he maintained.

According to him, any pressure from the well was taken into account when the well’s assembly was created, despite the fact that the well had not been producing for a long time, implying that there was no pressure to take off the valve.

“They are called the barriers to ensure that such an environment where it has been installed is not affected. So, if you are trying to compare an apple with an orange, it’s going to be a wrong thing,” he stated.

Furthermore, NOSDRA’s Ismail Ahmed linked the leak to the same source, stating that only vandalism could have caused the blowout based on his knowledge in fluid mechanics, his own physical assessment at the site, and his interactions with the wellhead professionals who stopped the leak.

He said that he had determined that the threading on the wellhead casing where the valve was removed was not worn out, implying that the valve was not detached due to pressure.

“I specifically asked the engineer before fixing the valve, what were the circumstances of the thread? This is because if those valves were pulled out under pressure, the threads would be worn out and he answered emphatically that the threads were intact.

“The most likely cause that could remove those valves was external influences. If those valves were removed under internal pressure, the thread would wear out because it will pull out,” he explained.

The leak was discovered on November 5 and subsequently repaired on December 8.

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