Jon Gambrell, Associated Press in Lagos, has reported that French oil company Total acknowledged on Saturday that one of its gas operations in the Niger Delta is leaking and that this “may have been going on for weeks.”
Gambrell writes, “Total’s Nigerian subsidiary hasn’t made any public statement about the leak since it likely began following an incident March 20, though the company has given near-daily updates about a similar leak at a plant off the United Kingdom in the North Sea.
“In a statement, Total’s Nigerian subsidiary said workers noticed a mix of water and natural gas bubbling up from an uninhabited site near the Obite plant on April 3. Total said there had been no injuries from the leaks, which it said likely followed the “technical incident” on March 20.”
A bit further into the article, Gambrell adds, “Rumors about an accident at a Total operation have circulated in Nigeria for weeks, though the company remained silent.
Asked why the company hadn’t publicized the Obite gas plant leak, Ebereonwu said Total’s Nigerian subsidiary had been posting updates on its website. However, the company has not sent any information to journalists.”
And, by the way, I saw one announcement on the Total website, not “updates”: http://www.ng.total.com
Same company. Two gas leaks. Two countries. Two reactions. Is there some reason why readers in Nigeria and beyond should not be informed about a gas leak in Nigeria? Just another Nigerian environmental mess, nothing really newsworthy?
Meanwhile, over at SkyTruth, the organization that posts satellite imagery of spills, there are new photos of a second “chronic leak” off the coast of Nigeria. This follows a blog post they did at the end of March about the first leak or spill. In both cases, large, unidentified oil slicks are visible over time. Although it is possible that these could be natural seeps — the second one, in particular, appears to be several miles from the closest structure — they could also be from leaking pipelines.
And, just to highlight how terrible monitoring is, SkyTruth has also posted images of an “extreme” bilge dump off Angola. It’s an oily trail 90 miles long.