Oil workers attached to the Sterling Global Oil Resources Limited, operators of the Oil Operating License (OPL) 277, and operatives of the Joint Military Task Force(JTF) code named Operation Pulo Shield, escaped death following an explosion that rocked a barge being used to transfer crude oil into a bigger vessel along the coastal area of Agge in Ekeremor local government area of Bayelsa State.
The explosion, which caused heavy fire, reportedly occurred Saturday at about 8.30pm on the Ramos River and was blamed on a spark from a power generating set being used to pump the crude oil into the vessel.
It was gathered that the explosion and subsequent fire incident were being viewed by the indigenes of the Agge community with suspicion due to the alleged collaboration of the oil workers, the security operatives and some indigenes of the community in illegal oil activities.
Community sources yesterday, said that as at the time of the fire incident, a gun boat attached to men of the Joint Military Task Force was stationed to provide protection but allegedly disappeared after the incident.
The source said the Oil Resource Company should investigate the incident.
From reports, as at yesterday heavy smoke is still being noticed from the burning barge. The ill-fated barge was being used in transferring crude oil to a vessel when disaster struck.
However, no life was lost in the incident but it triggered panic among indigenes of the surrounding communities with heavy smoke covering the areas.
The authorities of the JTF, while confirming the incident, denied the involvement of the soldiers in any illegal oil activity.
The coordinator of the Joint Media Centre of the JTF, Lt Col Onyema Nwachukwu, confirmed that a barge belonging to Sterling Oil Global caught fire. He said the fire was put under control and that no human causality was recorded. The barge that had the incident has been dragged to the mouth of the sea to avoid further damage as it is still emitting smoke,” he added.