A Reuters reporter visiting several parts of Akwa Ibom state saw a rainbow-tinted oil slick stretching for 32 kilometres from a pipeline that ExxonMobil had shut down because of a leak a week ago. Locals scooped it into jerry cans.
The managing director of ExxonMobil’s local unit, Mark Ward, told Reuters a cleanup had been mobilised, and he apologised to affected communities for the spill.
“Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN) regrets this incident. Our teams are being mobilised to clean up the area,” Ward said in a statement emailed to the news agency.
“We apologise for the inconveniences that it has caused.”
ExxonMobil said last Sunday it had shut a pipeline off the coast of Akwa Ibom state after an oil leak, however the cause was unknown.
“This is the worst spill in this community since Exxon started its operations in the area,” Edet Asuquo, 40, a fisherman in the Mkpanak community, told Reuters.
“The fishermen cannot fish any longer and have no alternative means of survival,” Asuquo said.
According to Reuters, one fisherman described noticing a large quantity of oil on the surface of the sea and all over the beach the Friday before last, adding that the company has since sprayed chemicals in the water, which was helping to disperse it.
It was the second major oil spill near ExxonMobil facilities in three months. At the end of August, an oil spill left a slick running for miles along the coast.
The US major’s outage comes on top of multiple production problems in Africa’s biggest crude exporter, after fellow oil majors Shell and Eni reported disruptions at onshore sites due to oil theft and Nigeria’s worst flooding in 50 years.