Scientists Warn of Possible Earthquakes in Niger Delta
LAGOS AUGUST 28TH (URHOBOTODAY)-Following recent earth tremors in some parts of the country, some scientist have warned that earthquakes can be triggered by oil and gas exploration, among other human activities, especially in the Niger Delta.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) spoke with some scientists and stakeholders on Saturday across the country against the backdrop of earth tremors in some states raised a lot of concern in the minds of citizens.
Most of the respondents, warned that the country could be vulnerable to earthquakes and other seismological activities, said could be triggered by the oil and gas exploration, among other human activities, especially in the Niger Delta Region.
NAN recalls that earth tremors caused a wide spread panic among residents of the affected communities of Akenfa and Igbogene in Bayelsa State, and Akinima, Akieoniso (Oruama) and One Man Country and Mbiama in Rivers State.
Tremors also happened many times in Saki, located in the northern part of Oyo State – a hilly town that lies near the source of Ofun River, which is about 60km to the Republic of Benin border.
The National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) said that oil and gas exploration as well as human activities among others were the likely causes of tremor in the South-South.
According to the Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Communications, of NASRDA, Mr Felix Ale, the organisation had done a preliminary report on the suspected earth tremors that occurred in July 15 and July 24 in Bayelsa and Rivers State respectively.
“The report shows that (i) oil and gas exploration (ii) suspected suture zones and; (iii) man-made activities are among likely causes of the incidents.
“At this stage, it cannot be concluded that the tremors occurred as a result of man-made activities in the region or from tectonic activities from natural sources until a detailed investigation in the entire South-South region is carried out by NASRDA’s research team.
“The detailed analyses by the team will help the agency to adopt requisite mitigating measures to avert loss of lives and property in case of future occurrences.
“In view of the nature of earth tremors or earthquakes, especially natural tremors, the Space Agency is making plans to deploy monitoring seismic equipment to the affected region for continuous micro seismic and macro seismic activities.
“This is imperative because tremors will continue to occur in the future, depending on either natural or artificial causative agents.
“Scientists from the Centre for Geodesy and Geodynamics, Toro, (Bauchi State), under NASRDA, are currently working on relevant seismic data to extract more information from seismic station located in Toro.”
Ale said that the scientists would also embark on a field trip to Kaduna, Ife and Abakiliki stations to acquire more data from the stations, saying comprehensive results from the detailed analysis would be made available in due course.
The agency said that similar tremor was observed at Saki, Oyo State, in May, which also sent residents of the area scampering for safety.
The agency said a team of researchers were immediately deployed to the affected areas and intensity was estimated as MM III-IV and local magnitudes as 2.5 to 3.0.
“Report on Saki incident has been submitted to the Space Agency for further studies.”
NASRDA enjoined citizens of affected areas and indeed the general public to remain calm as all scientific measures were currently being deployed to ascertain the causes of the earth tremors for possible mitigating measures.
“This is to avert loss of lives and property in case of future occurrences.”
A scientist and Director, Technology Acquisition and Adaption Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, Dr Adeneye Talabi, also attributed the incident of earth tremors to exploration of oil and gas.
Talabi said that the Federal Government needed to save more lives by enforcing all existing rules on exploiting natural resources.
Talabi said that the government should ensure due processes were followed to address tremors that occurred recently in the South-South region.
He said that the balance of the ecosystem had been distorted by the fact that oil had been extracted, adding that the vacuum created by extracting gas and crude oil ought to be replaced with close density commodity to avoid any future disaster.
“There is need for the Federal Government and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, in particular to enforce all the existing and rules guiding exploitation of natural resources like crude oil.
“Regarding the tremor at Bayelsa and Rivers, the fact that they have been extracting through the exploitation processes and methods, vacuum has been created.”
He explained that Nigeria was not immune naturally against such occurrence, adding that every appropriate measures ought to be put in place to avert them in future.
He said that the country needed to carry out world best practices in the processes of extracting natural resources such as petroleum and natural gas.