Posted by By Hector Igbikiowubo, Emma Amaize & Emma Arubi on
PIPELINE explosions, yesterday, rocked the Niger Delta cities of Port Harcourt, setting one conveying crude oil on fire and in Warri where another one conveying petroleum products provided an easy pick for suspected illegal oil bunkerers.
WARRI — PIPELINE explosions, yesterday, rocked the Niger Delta cities of Port Harcourt, setting one conveying crude oil on fire and in Warri where another one conveying petroleum products provided an easy pick for suspected illegal oil bunkerers.
Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) confirmed that the Port Harcourt explosion occurred on a crude oil pipeline operated by the company located across the Opobo Channel, 50 kilometres South-West of the Rivers State capital.
The incident left the company and security operatives at a loss over the source of the explosions. Preliminary investigations revealed that the fire might have been caused by a dynamite attack carried out by unknown persons.
Meanwhile, the company has shut-in production from Diebu Creek and Nun River fields as well as all land area facilities except Rumuekpe.
The company said the relevant government agencies had been notified while a joint investigation team comprising security and regulatory agencies and community people had been constituted to look into the incident.
Although the company admited that some nearby settlements might have been impacted by the incident, it was yet to determine the number of communities affected. “We sympathise with people who might have been affected in this incident and we have mobilised a medical team that is now on standby in Port Harcourt.
“The pipeline explosion follows on from two security incidents –– an attack by unknown gunmen on a security post at Fisiokiri in our Cawthorne Channel field, and another attempted attack on an NLNG tugboat within the same period. We have communicated these incidents to the relevant government agencies and also held meetings with community representatives,” the management said.
In Warri, Delta State, a Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) pipeline, conveying petroleum from Escravos-Warri-Kaduna, also exploded at Adeje community on account of the activities of individuals engaged in the theft of crude oil.
Despite the explosion which resulted in a fire which continues to rage, illegal oil bunkering activities were still in progress at the time of filling this report, with people siphoning fuel from the pipeline which was still emitting fire yesterday afternoon.
At the time of Vanguard's visit to the community, yesterday, fire was still bellowing from not fewer than three points on the pipeline with a section stretching no less than six kilometers around the pipeline already razed.
An eye witness said the fire actually started on Sunday but one of the policemen guarding the pipeline told Vanguard that the suspected vandals struck in between the time a team of policemen on duty in the area was withdrawn for a new one, which was later withdrawn for inexplicable reasons.
Surprisingly, while a team of fire officials from the PPMC was busy at about 1.20 pm, yesterday, trying to put out the fire, the vandals mostly teenagers were seen siphoning fuel from another end.
At 1.45p.m. when Vanguard left the scene of the explosion, firemen numbering more than 30 were still battling to quench the fire. They came prepared with a generating set and three drums of “film forming flour protein foam concentrates (FFFP).”
Officials of the fire team declined to speak with Vanguard on their operations but one of them complained that the villagers were not helping the company with the incessant manner pipelines were tampered with in the area.
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