The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) has relocated its Kolo Creek-Soku gas pipeline across Kolo River in Bayelsa from the river surface to the river bed.
A visit to the Kolo Creek Oilfield operated by SPDC shows that the gas pipeline is no longer located on the water surface across the creek.
Oil workers were seen refilling dug out sand from the creek.
SPDC had in October 2016 passed the gas pipeline above the surface of the Kolo River, hampering navigation by fishing canoes, transport boats amongst others in the channel.
The development had triggered resistance amongst environmentalists and residents affected by the blockade which compelled SPDC to remove the pipeline from the water surface and buried it under the riverbed.
Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), had in its advocacy urged SPDC to bury the pipeline to protect the economic interest of residents who used the creek as transport channel and fishing activities.
Reacting to the development, Head of Field Operations at ERA/FoEN, Mr Alagoa Morris, noted that it was a welcome development and applauded SPDC for taking steps to correct the anomaly.
“It is a positive outcome of our advocacy efforts and we commend SPDC for taking steps to come back to bury the pipeline under the river bed, it shows that we are partners to ensure that the oil industry is run in a sustainable manner.
“We always demand justice and fair play and preach the principle of ‘live and let live’, with the pipeline underneath the Kolo River, fishermen and community people who use the creek will operate while Shell carries on its business as well.
“We in the environmental rights movement are keen on complimenting and strengthening the efforts of the regulatory authorities. We are not trouble makers as some of the industry operators perceive us, we do not shout for nothing.
“When they do well we applaud and commend them, and this is a win-win situation for Shell and its host community. This action makes further protests which we planned unnecessary,” Morris said.
Also, an Environmental Scientist and development worker at Connected Development (CODE), Ms Benita Siloko, noted that she was worried about the adverse impact of crossing the pipeline on water surface when she noticed the pipeline in December 2016 during the Christmas holidays.
“I had observed the pipeline across the water surface and opted to take photographs because it looked abnormal for a channel where boats and canoes pass, I am pleasantly surprised that they have corrected the problem.
“Oil firms must understand that the welfare and economic interest of oil bearing communities count while executing their projects.
“As an environmentalist I feel happy at the development, and it shows that with the support provided by the civil society advocacy groups like ERA/FoEN our communities would be a better place to live in,” Siloko said.