Twelve people died and three were injured in an explosion on July 9 during repair work on a pipeline in Bayelsa state operated by the local subsidiary of Italian oil company Eni. According to local reports, the victims worked on a maintenance team for a local service company, repairing damage caused “by acts of sabotage” on the Tebidaba-Clough Creek pipeline.
In a statement , Eni said the company was investigating the cause of the blast. Eni subsidiary Nigerian Agip Oil Company recorded 13 incidents relating to pipelines and oil wells in May including theft, pipelines being cut using a hacksaw and equipment failure, according to the company’s website. Seventeen were reported in April and 14 in March.
Accidents such as these are common in Nigeria, where pipelines are often breached in attempts to pilfer oil products. The incidents interrupt oil and gas flows, affecting Nigeria’s energy exports and revenue for companies including Eni, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Chevron Corp.
Hundreds have been killed in Nigerian pipeline accidents in the past decade. An explosion at a vandalized oil pipeline in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, started a fire that killed at least 200 people and burned many more in December 2006. In May that year, about 200 people were killed when another oil pipeline exploded near Lagos.
Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer, loses an estimated 300,000 barrels a day to criminal gangs that tap crude from pipelines that criss-cross the southern, oil-rich delta for local refining or sale to tankers waiting offshore, according to state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp.