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The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has shut down a key oil product pipeline after late last week a fire broke out along the pipeline route, which the company said was likely to have been caused by an explosion triggered by suspected oil thieves.
On Friday, NNPC said that it was moving to contain a fire outbreak along the Osisioma axis near Aba Depot in its System 2E pipeline network.
“The corporation said the incident might have been caused by suspected oil thieves who had hacked into the line to intercept flow of petrol from Port Harcourt to Aba. NNPC Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, confirmed fatalities and loss of properties in the ensuing inferno,” NNPC said in a statement on Friday.
According to Nigerian media, the death toll is said be 24, although Eze Ikechukwu Chiavoghilefu, chairman at the Osisioma Local Government Traditional Rulers Council, says that the fatalities are 150.
“NNPC Group Managing Director, Dr. Maikanti Baru, expressed shock at the wanton willful destruction of lives and properties occasioned by the incident,” the Nigerian company said in its Friday statement.
On Monday, a spokesman told S&P Global Platts that “The oil pipeline fire outbreak along the Osisioma axis near Aba Depot might have been caused by suspected oil thieves who had hacked into the line to intercept flow of petrol from Port Harcourt to Aba.”
“Petrol [gasoline] was being pumped from the Port Harcourt depot when the fire occurred, so the pipeline was shut down as a safety measure,” the spokesman said, adding that 16 people had died.
The shutdown of the 2E pipeline network disrupted over the weekend the supply of imported gasoline as well as the flow of gasoline that the 210,000-bpd Port Harcourt refineries pump to southeast and north Nigeria, the spokesman told Platts.
Nigeria’s four refineries have a combined capacity of 445,000 bpd, as per Platts figures, but the inefficient refineries in need of upgrades and revamps are unable to meet domestic fuel demand, so Nigeria has to import gasoline.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.