Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
An explosion carried out by suspected vandals on a gas pipeline belonging to Nigeria Agip Oil Company (AGIP)in Bayelsa has allegedly reduced export feed to the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) company by about five million Standard Cubic Metres per day (MMSCM/d).
The explosion spread panic around Bayelsa Palm road, Yenagoa, the state capital on Tuesday following gas leakage from the pipeline.
According to sources, loud explosion suspected to be ignited by dynamite was heard Monday night at about 11 pm and by Tuesday there was massive gas being released to the atmosphere from the site of the pipeline which is about 300 metres from the Bayelsa Palm road.
A close look at the ruptured pipeline indicated that there was a battery and wire, suggesting an explosive was detonated.
The Head of Field Operations, Niger Delta Resources Center of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria( ERA/FoEN, Mr Morris Alagoa who spoke to journalists at the site said the current leakage is the second time an incident like this would be happening at the site.
According to him the incident is not strange as many of such have been witnessed by field monitors like him.
He said there are signs that the incident could have been triggered by a third party pointing out that it speaks volume about the security of the pipeline.
“It has been a recurring incident again and again. There are giant anthills on the AGIP pipeline which might also help the people to sabotage the system even in the afternoon to burst the pipeline because it will serve as a cover for the perpetrators.
“We have SPDC pipeline on the other side and AGIP pipeline this way and both are running on the same line. That means there should be visibility so that people passing by will see any Intruders whether in the day time or night. That could also send a signal that something is happening here”.
“And this is raw gas coming out from the geological formation. Knowing that from the formation we have water, oil and gas from several wells being channelled to wherever they are channeling it to which even makes it more dangerous than gas flare in terms of impact on health.
Morris confirmed that Nigerian Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) has already visited the site and hoped that other relevant agencies like the Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment would also visit the place to put a demarcation to restrict movement of people to avoid any untoward incident.
Sources close to Agip said the company fixed the pipeline few days ago and lamented that after fixing, vandals blew it up again
“The Nigerian Agip Oil Company is working actively to depressurize the pipeline in order to affect repairs on it,” the source added.
It was learnt that AGIP, the owner of the facility was promptly notified of the latest incident.
Idris Musa, Director-General/CEO, NOSDRA who confirmed the pipeline blast on Wednesday said the vandalisation of the gas line which evacuates an average of 5 MMSCM/d was reported to the agency in the early hours of Tuesday.
He explained that the explosion was also reported to the agency by the Azikoro community.
“Due to high pressure, NAOC was directed by NOSDRA to depressurize the facility preparatory for a Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) which will follow immediately to ascertain the cause and extent of the incident. NAOC is already at the incident site, with the agency among other stakeholders working to contain the explosion and secure the incident site preparatory to JIV and other remedial measures,” Musa said.
He assured that NOSDRA would conduct the investigations in a transparent manner and the findings would be made public in due course.
At the time of filing this report, neither NLNG or NAOC officials have made official statement on the incident.