At least three people, and possibly as many as ten, ate feared to have died in a pipeline explosion near Arepo Village in Owode, Ogun State, in southwest Nigeria, on Friday 11 January 2012. The explosion is said to have been caused by a stray bullet from a gun fired into the air during a dispute between thieves siphoning petroleum from the pipeline. A number of people have reportedly been arrested after a violent confrontation between rescuer teams and petroleum thieves.
Burning petroleum at Arepo on Friday. Naijalog.
The pipeline belongs to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, and carries petroleum from Atlas Cove Jetty in Lagos to the surrounding states. Coming shortly after the explosion at Tin Can Island on Wednesday 9 January, this further event has lead to fears of petrol shortages in the region.
Although Nigeria is a major exporter of crude oil, it is reliant on imported petroleum for its fuel needs, placing the country at a significant economic disadvantage. The combination of fuel poverty and pipelines criss-crossing the countryside has led to a thriving black market in stolen fuel, obtained at great risk from pipelines, either as processed petroleum or as crude oil which is then refined using home-made fractionation equipment (also dangerous). This raiding of oil pipelines is blamed by oil companies for the widespread pollution in the Niger Delta, though environmental and human rights groups claim that this is used as an excuse to cover poor maintenance practices, and that companies should be held responsible for the security of their pipelines anyway.
The location of the Ogun State explosion. Google Maps.
See also Oil barge explosion in Port of Lagos, Amnesty International reports on the 2012 Bodo Oil Spill, Explosion aboard oil vessel in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, Oil spill in Bayelsa State, Nigeria and Chevron exploration rig still burning in the Niger Delta.
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