the US oil company operating in Angola since 1994, has yet to record a “Level 3” oil spill, the biggest accident that can occur in oil-producing areas, its director for safety, health and environment, Murtala da Silva, said Wednesday.
Speaking to the press on the sidelines of the Regional Level 3 Spill Response Exercise held from May 15 to 18 in Island of Luanda, Silva explained that oil activities are susceptible to three levels of spills, with Level 3 being the most worrying.
The official, who would not specify the number of Level 1 and 2 spills recorded in recent years, said that given the risk of oil activity, companies have been required to prepare mitigation measures in the event of a serious incident.
“The probability of spills happening in the oil industry is very low, but it’s not impossible, so the companies should be ready to mitigate accidents of this kind,” Siva said.
As part of the “Giant Sable Antelope” exercise, the source said that the event included a simulation of spills in the coastal area, demonstrating the response capacity of ExxonMobil Angola, in case of a “Level 3” oil spill in the coastal area.
He also said that the exercise also served to show the equipment used, particularly protection buoys, suction pumps, tents, drones, among other spill containment materials, as well as testing the reaction capacity of the professionals.
The national director for security, emergencies and environment of the Ministry for Mineral Resources, Oil and Gas, Manuel Xavier, said the country records one of the lowest rates of oil spills at sea, compared to other oil producing countries in the world.
The official also agreed that spills are inherent to the oil activity, despite the existence of a certain prevention plan, cutting-edge technology and specialised professionals.
“Although there are suitable technological means and professionals, spills happen, due to technological and human failures, as well as adverse weather conditions,” Xavier said.
The Mineral Resources official called for all oil companies to have the capacity to respond quickly to prevent spills from spreading in case of an accident.
In terms of monitoring oil activities in the country, the national director said the sector has specific legislation that instructs all oil operators to have a plan for the prevention and response to oil spills at sea.
Alongside that legislation there is also the National Commission to Combat Oil Spills at Sea, which is tasked with drawing up response strategies to prevent or reduce environmental damage from a possible accident.
The first day of the Level 3 Regional Spill Response Exercise was attended by the Minister of Mineral Resources, Oil and Gas, Diamantino Azevedo, who considered it extremely important as it served to test the capacity of the operators.
ExxonMobil has been in Angola since 1994 through affiliates or direct holdings, with presence in Block 15, with 36 percent, Block 17 (18 percent) and Block 32, with 15 percent, and since 2020 has been in Blocks 30, 44 and 45, with 60 percent, the latter three located in the Namibe basin.
Recently, the National Oil, Gas and Biofuels Agency (ANPG) and the Contractor Group of Block 15, operated by ExxonMobil Angola, announced the milestone achievement of 2.5 billion barrels of cumulative oil production on Block 15, since the First Production, from the FPSO Xikomba, 20 years ago.
Block 15 is located about 145 kilometres west of the coast of Zaire province, in deep water off the coast of Angola.
Source: Angola Press News Agency (APNA)