Nigeria’s daily crude oil output declined by 150,000 barrels, as Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, SPDC, joint venture, Thursday, said it has shut the Trans Niger Pipeline (TNP) following an explosion and fire at a crude theft point on the 28” section of the facility at Bodo West in Ogoni land.
According to a statement by Mr. Tony Okonedo, Corporate Media Relations Manager, prior to the incident, SPDC had shut down the 28” TNP to remove crude theft connections, and has now closed the 24” TNP as a precautionary response to the fire. “This means that the entire TNP system, comprising the 28” and 24” pipelines have been shut-in. The 24” TNP will be reopened when it is safe to do so, while the 28” TNP will remain shut-in until the fire has been extinguished, and investigation and damage assessment completed.”
Also speaking, Mr. Mutiu Sunmonu, Managing Director SPDC and Country Chair Shell Companies in Nigeria, said, “This is another sad reminder of the tragic consequences of crude oil theft.
“Unknown persons continued to reconnect illegal bunkering hoses at Bodo West even as our pipeline team were removing crude theft points. It was therefore not surprising that the fire occurred from the continuing illegal bunkering even as a previous crude oil theft point was being repaired by the team.
“So far, there is practically no spill from this event as the oil is burning off. What is visible in the water is from an earlier oil spill which was also as a result of oil theft.
“The explosion also triggered a fire on a nearby barge. Crude theft continues to pose significant challenges to people, the environment and the local and national economy, and all stakeholders must work together to stop this criminal activity.”
Sylvester Kogbara, Chairman, Council of Chiefs and Elders of Bodo, a community in the Niger Delta, had earlier raised an alarm on the inferno at the site of the pipeline which transports crude oil through the Niger Delta to the Bonny terminal, days after the company refused to repair the broken pipe.
He stated that several workers of the company at the site were wounded in the inferno.
He said, “A trunk of the pipeline which carries 150,000 barrels a day of oil through the Niger Delta to Bonny terminal, suffered a spill early last week, but Wednesday, it caught fire. The fire is on. I can see the smoke in the air. To the best of his knowledge, the oil is still flowing.”
Godwin Ojo, Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action, the Nigerian branch of Friends of the Earth, confirmed an explosion on the pipeline, Wednesday, in Bodo but said he did not know if it had caused any deaths.
BY MICHAEL EBOH