Explosion at illegal oil refinery kills 100 – reports — Analysis

The blast in Nigeria left bodies “burned beyond recognition,” a local official said

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 continues to be a problem in an area plagued with 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 was 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. 

WATCH oil tanker explode off Nigerian coast

Together with Rivers State, Bayelsa and other neighboring states make up the Niger River Delta. This is where illegal refineries flourish. Shell was the first to pump oil in Bayelsa, in 1955. Since then, a number of multinational petroleum companies have moved into the delta to mine the rich black metal from its vast marshy bottom.

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 instance was only ordered by the court to provide compensation in 2020 for an oil disaster in Rivers State in 1970.

Because of poverty and high unemployment, the locals are often able to tap into oil companies’ pipelines and then refine their own products. This process, known as ‘bunkering’, is dangerous, and leaves pipelines leaking afterwards. Illegal bunkering has cost Nigeria $4.8billion a year. That’s a total of 200,000 barrels per hour.

Shell asserted in 2015 that illegal bunkering was the cause of 85% oil spilled in Nigeria from its pipes that year.

Share this story via social media



Related Articles

Back to top button