Explosion at illegal oil refinery in Nigeria kills over 100

  • The bunker site was on the border of Rivers and Imo states
  • Illegal refining in the Niger Delta fueled by unemployment and poverty
  • The explosion comes after the recent crackdown by the Governor of Rivers State

YENAGAO, Nigeria, April 23 (Reuters) – More than 100 people were killed overnight in an explosion at an illegal oil refining depot on the border of Nigeria’s Rivers and Imo states, a government official said on Saturday. local government and an environmental group.

“The fire occurred at an illegal bunker site and affected more than 100 people who were burned beyond recognition,” said state Petroleum Resources Commissioner Goodluck Opiah.

The bunker site was in the Ohaji-Egbema Local Government Area of ​​Imo State in the Abaezi Forest which straddles the border of the two states.

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Unemployment and poverty in the oil-producing Niger Delta have made illegal crude oil refining an attractive business, albeit with deadly consequences. Crude oil is extracted from a network of pipelines owned by major oil companies and refined into products in makeshift reservoirs.

The dangerous process has led to many fatal accidents and polluted an already devastated region with oil spills in farmland, creeks and lagoons.

The Youths and Environmental Advocacy Center said several vehicles queuing to buy illegal fuel were burned in the blast.

The location of the border is a reaction to a recent crackdown by the Governor of Rivers State against illegal refining in an effort to reduce worsening air pollution. Read more

“The Governor of Rivers State has recently been pushing to stamp out illegal refining in Rivers so he needs to move to outlying and neighboring states. involved were attacked,” Ledum Mitee, former chairman of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), said.

At least 25 people, including children, were killed in an explosion and fire at another illegal refinery in Rivers State in October. Read more

In February, local authorities said they had launched a crackdown to try to halt the refining of stolen crude, but with little apparent success. Read more

Government officials estimate that Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer and exporter, loses an average of 200,000 barrels of oil a day – more than 10% of production – to those who exploit or vandalize pipelines.

This has forced oil companies to regularly declare force majeure on oil and gas exports.

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Additional reporting by Julia Payne in Lagos, writing by Julia Payne and MacDonald Dzirutwe, editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Ros Russell

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