The twenty one communities affected by the fire incident at Ojumole Oil Well operated by Chevron Nigeria Limited in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State have demanded compensation to the tune of $2.5 billion from the company.
The communities made the demand through their spokesman, Dr. Akin Akinruntan, at a public hearing of major stakeholders conducted by the State House of Assembly in Akure on Tuesday.
Akinruntan lamented that the company has yet to put out the fire since it started on April 18.
He said that the residents of the communities, who are mainly fishermen, had been prevented from going about their normal socioeconomic activities as a result of the inferno.
According to him, Chevron must therefore compensate the 21 communities within eight-kilometre radius of the scene of the fire with $2.5 billion.
Akinruntan further called on the company to inform the stakeholders of the method it intends to deploy to quench the fire, to avoid the use of dangerous chemicals that could further endanger the lives of the community people.
Also, he said that urgent medical examination should be given to people living within eight-kilometre radius of the fire and those discovered to have suffered adverse effects should be treated immediately.
Furthermore, he appealed to the company to immediately commence the process of cleaning up and cooling the environment in the aftermath of the fire.
The community leader also called on Chevron to disclose how many barrels of crude oil were being produced from the Ojumole Oil Well.
Responding, the General Manager of Chevron, Esimaje Brikinn, said that the company is a responsible organisation committed to the protection of its operating environment.
He said that Chevron was therefore highly dissatisfied with the fire incident, which he blamed on the activities of vandals and oil thieves.
Brikinn said it was unfortunate that vandalism of the company’s assets led to the fire in spite of the security measures put in place by Chevron to protect the Ojumole Oil Well.
However, he explained that the company was doing everything needed to extinguish the fire and craved the patience of affected communities.
One of the steps being taken, he said, was the mobilisation of world-class equipment by fire experts from the United States to put out the fire.
Brikinn said that Chevron would continue to work with the host communities and provide necessary amenities.