A Reuters reporter visiting several parts of Akwa Ibom state saw a rainbow-tinted oil slick stretching for 20 miles from a pipeline that Exxon had shut down because of a leak a week ago. Locals scooped it into jerry cans.
Mark Ward, the managing director of ExxonMobil’s local unit, said a clean up had been mobilized, and he apologized to affected communities for the spill.
Exxon said last Sunday it had shut a pipeline off the coast of Akwa Ibom state after an oil leak whose cause was unknown.
“This is the worst spill in this community since Exxon started its operations in the area,” said Edet Asuquo, 40, a fisherman in the Mkpanak community, as women scooped oil into buckets. In some marshy areas, plants were poking out of the slick, not yet dead and blackened by the oil.
“The fishermen cannot fish any longer and have no alternative means of survival,” Asuquo said.
The U.S. 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.
“Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN) regrets this incident. Our teams are being mobilized to clean up the area,” Ward said in a statement emailed to Reuters.
“We apologize for the inconveniences that it has caused.”