At least 12 people were confirmed dead following an oil pipeline explosion in Rivers on Friday, March 3, 2023. The incident occurred in the early hours of Friday in the Rumuekpe community, in the Emohua Local Government Area of the state. The event occurred as a result of pipeline vandalism and illegal oil bunkering, which led to the deaths of the 12 people. The police spokesperson in the state, Grace Iringe-Koko, said in a statement in Port Harcourt on Friday that the identities of the victim were unknown, but some of them are said to be scooping the oil when the site caught fire.
She said in a press release that the explosion occurred around 2am when a truck loaded with illegal crude oil exploded while returning from the site. “Five vehicles, four Keke NAPEP (commercial tricycles), and one motorcycle were all burned to ashes,” Iringe-Koko narrated. Despite the Federal Government’s increased efforts at tackling pipeline sabotage as well as illegal oil bunkering and refining, they have been on the increase in the oil-producing Niger Delta. These issues contributed to Nigeria’s lowest ever oil output in 2022 since several decades.
Explosion at Trans Niger Pipeline can cost Nigeria 180,000bpd.
Now, this explosion may not only make Nigeria lose about 180,000 barrels per day (bpd) but also take a while for the pipeline to be fixed. The ghastly explosion happened at Trans Niger Pipeline, a major pipeline in Nigeria that conveys 180,000 bpd through the Rumuekpe Community to designated places. This pipeline is Nigeria’s major liquid hydrocarbon delivery channel involved in moving oil to the Bonny Export Terminal and used for domestic power generation and liquefied gas exports.
In a month, Nigeria may lose well over four million barrels. If this continues, the government’s revenue will continue to take the hit. After investigations, the Executive Director of Youth and Environment Advocacy Centre, Fyneface Dumnamene blamed the incident on vandalism and oil theft which has overtime hindered the federal government from receiving the complete revenue from the oil sector. This was the same verdict given by the Chief Executive, Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Gbenga Komolafe in a statement.
NUPRC has commenced investigations into the event.
Komolafe stated that the incident had been reported to the regulatory agency and “the commission in line with its statutory regulatory oversight of upstream petroleum operations in the Nigerian oil and gas industry has commenced investigations into the incident in conjunction with relevant stakeholders and will provide updates appropriately.” Security agents have frequently discovered crude oil being tapped from a web of pipelines owned by oil companies in the area and refined into products in makeshift tanks.
The illegal oil business has resulted in severe pollution of the environment and many fatal accidents. One of its many environmental ills is the black soot. Soot is a mass of impure carbon particles resulting from the incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons. According to Bieye Briggs, a public health physician in Port Harcourt, prolonged exposure to carbon and other components of soot, may make the human cells undergo mutation and become carcinogenic. This can cause many diseases affecting the heart, lungs, and brain. In 2022, there were many media reports of how respiratory illnesses and water pollution worsen as Port Harcourt residents battled with soot as a result of pipeline vandalism and illegal oil bunkering and refining.
Oil theft in the Niger Delta is bad for all involved.
Apart from the great loss pipeline vandalism causes the Federal Government, it is bad for everyone including the residents of the oil-rich Niger Delta. The best way to curb this menace is a collective and unrelenting effort by all stakeholders to stop the indiscriminate combustion of fossil fuels and gas flaring in the state. In 2022, one Rivers resident, for whom asthma attacks have become more frequent because of the pollution of the environment, said the only option is to put a stop to artisanal refining.