A day after President Muhammadu Buhari met with leaders of the Niger Delta to resolve the crisis in the region, a major oil pipeline was sabotaged.
No group has, however, claimed responsibility for the explosion at the oil field operated by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, in Delta State.
The attack breached a crude export line that was commissioned on Monday, PREMIUM TIMES learnt. An official said the explosion occurred at the line that transfers stored crude oil to vessels for onward export.
The Joint Military Task Force, JTF, deployed to the Niger Delta confirmed the Wednesday explosion.
Olaolu Daudu, spokesman of the JTF, code-named “Operation Delta Safe’’ said investigations had commenced.
He said troops deployed to the area heard an explosion at the Bantan Flow Station run by NPDC, a subsidiary of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
“Troops of Operation Delta Safe located at Sector 1, in Delta while on routine patrol heard an explosive sound caused by suspected economic saboteurs at Bantan Flow Station around Ekweregbene, Bantan general area.
“The incident is however, being investigated and details will be made available as events unfold.
“Also, troops of Forward Operation Base, deployed at Bonny in Rivers, while on anti – crude oil theft/ illegal bunkering patrol, discovered two illegal refinery sites along Ogbunku Creek,” he said.
He further said the troops recovered three 40 horse power outboard engines and three pumping machines.
Wednesday’s explosion may further affect Nigeria’s dwindling foreign earnings which have been blamed for the country’s current recession. Sabotage of oil and gas facilities led to an almost 50 per cent reduction of Nigeria’s crude exports and also worsened the electricity situation as gas powered plants could not receive gas.
Wednesday’s explosion also comes barely 24 hours after the Niger Delta stakeholders met with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja.
At the meeting, the Niger Delta leaders presented a 16-point demand to Mr. Buhari. The demands include rapid development of the region and inclusion of people from the region in ownership of oil blocs.
The leaders at the meeting included traditional rulers, governors, ministers and top politicians from the oil producing region.