Exxon Mobil Cleaning Up Oil Spill on Nigerian Coast

Exxon Mobil Corp.’s Nigerian unit said it began cleaning up part of the nation’s southeast coast after a pipeline from an offshore facility spilled at least 200 barrels of crude at the end of last week.

Exxon Mobil shut the pipeline on Nov. 10 and is investigating the cause of the spill in the state of Akwa Ibom, the company said late yesterday in a statement from Lagos, the commercial capital. Dispersants and booms are now being deployed in work involving more than 100 personnel.

The nation’s authorities don’t yet have an estimate for the amount of crude released. An aerial inspection will be carried out before an estimate on volumes is made, Peter Idabor, director-general of National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, said today by phone from Abuja, the Nigerian capital.

“It is not enough for Mobil to say they are cleaning up; they have to tell us what dispersants they are using,” Nnimmo Bassey, executive director of Environmental Rights Action, an affiliate of Friends of the Earth, said today by phone from Benin City, Nigeria. “Their continuous spilling in the area has destroyed the fisheries economy and general livelihoods of the people.”

Exxon Mobil, the second-largest producer in Nigeria, is the operator of a joint venture in which it holds a 40 percent stake, with state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. holding the rest. The company was involved in Nigeria’s worst offshore spill that dumped an estimated 40,000 barrels into the sea from its Idoho platform in January 1998.

“Our teams are being mobilized to clean up the area,” Mark Ward, managing director of Exxon’s Nigerian unit, said in the statement. The company regrets this incident and apologized for the inconvenience it has caused, he said.

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