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#AceNewsRoom With ‘Kindness & Wisdom’ Apr.24, 2022 @acebreakingnews
#AceBreakingNews – At least 100 people were killed in southern Nigeria in an explosion at an illegal oil refinery, the authorities have said according to reports
An overnight explosion at an illegal oil refining depot in Nigeria’s Imo State has killed 100 people, the state’s commissioner for petroleum resources said on Saturday. Illegal refining is a persistent problem in an area of the country wracked by poverty and unemployment.
“The fire outbreak occurred at an illegal bunkering site and it affected over 100 people who were burnt beyond recognition,” State Commissioner for Petroleum Resources Goodluck Opiah announced on Saturday, according to Nigeria’s Daily Post. “At the moment, I can’t really confirm the number of the deceased because many family members have removed the corpses of so many others,” Opiah added.
The commissioner said that the refinery’s owner has since been declared wanted by the government of Imo State, through which the Niger River runs to the country’s southern coast.
Imo State together with the neighboring states of Rivers and Bayelsa make up the Niger River delta, where illegal refineries thrive. Oil was first pumped in Bayelsa in 1955 by Shell, and since then a collection of multinational petroleum firms moved in to extract the black gold from the vast and marshy delta.
Oil from the region accounts for between 7% and 10% of the country’s GDP, but the damage wrought on the delta’s ecosystem has been catastrophic, and locals can wait decades for restitution. Shell, for example, was ordered to pay compensation only in 2020 for a massive oil spillage in Rivers State that took place back in 1970.
With unemployment and poverty endemic in the region, locals often tap into the pipelines of the oil firms and refine the product themselves. This process, known as ‘bunkering’, is dangerous, and leaves pipelines leaking afterwards. As of last year, illegal bunkering cost Nigeria 200,000 barrels of oil per day, at a cost of $4.8 billion a year with oil at 2021 prices.
Shell claimed in 2015 that illegal bunkering was responsible for 85% of the oil spilled from its pipes in Nigeria that year.
By Ishaq Khalid
BBC News, Abuja
Dozens of people were thought to have been working at the refining plants when they were caught in the huge fire.
Many were burnt beyond recognition.
High levels of poverty and unemployment have made illegal oil refining an attractive business for many residents of the oil-rich communities in southern Nigeria.
The death toll could rise, with one local official being quoted by the AFP news agency as saying that emergency workers had recovered “at least 80 badly burnt bodies at the scene”.
“We learnt many bodies are in nearby bushes and forests as some illegal operators and their patrons scampered for safety,” Ifeanyi Nnaji of the National Emergency Management Agency said.
The authorities have been struggling to curb the proliferation of the illegal plants where stolen crude oil is refined.
It is not yet clear what caused the explosion that happened sometime overnight into Saturday, but accidents have been common in the past at similar dangerous sites where safety measures are not enforced.
There have been concerns over a lack of precautions at such facilities as well as environmental pollution.
But Nigeria’s official oil refineries do not work to capacity, causing frequent fuel shortages and price increases across the country.
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