The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) says investigation into the explosion on Friday, March 3, 2023, at the Rumuekpe section of Trans Niger Pipeline (TNP) in Rivers State shows the blast was caused by activities of oil thieves.
SPDC in an update statement on Sunday, March 5, noted that a joint investigation by representatives of regulators, host communities, operator and state Ministry of Environment on Saturday found a breach on the TNP.
The statement by Mr Michael Adande, spokesperson for SPDC, regretted the loss of lives in the incident and commiserated with families of victims.
He added that security agencies conducting rescue operations had not come out with exact casualty figures.
Meanwhile, the Police in Rivers had confirmed that about 10 persons died on Friday following the explosion.
The TNP, operated by SPDC, evacuates crude from oil fields in Rivers and parts of Bayelsa to the Bonny Crude Oil Export Terminal.
Adande said the fire at the Rumuekpe-Nkpoku trunk line in Rivers was put out before Saturday’s joint investigation began.
“The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) confirms with great sadness that the fire incident, which occurred on Friday, March 3, 2023, on the Rumuekpe-Nkpoku Trunk Line in Rivers State, resulted in the unfortunate loss of lives.
“Government security agencies are still investigating to know the exact number of lives lost in the incident. This is indeed a deeply regrettable incident, and we commiserate with the families that have been impacted.
“The report of the government-led Joint Investigation Visit team, which included representatives of the community, ascertained that the fire, which has been extinguished, occurred at the site of an illegal connection used for crude theft.
“The Rumuekpe-Nkpoku Trunk Line, which was not operational at the time of the incident, is part of the Trans Niger Pipeline (TNP),” he said.
Meanwhile, the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) says investigation into the explosion is underway.
The Police in Rivers had confirmed that no fewer than 10 persons died on Friday following an explosion near the TNP in Rumuekpe, Rivers.
Mr Idris Musa, Director-General of NOSDRA, said on Saturday that a Joint Investigative Visit (JIV) to the site had been scheduled for Saturday to ascertain the cause of the blast and volume of crude spilled.
JIV is a statutory inquiry that follows every oil spill incident consisting of representatives of the oil firm, regulators, host community and State Ministry of Environment.
The TNP, operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), evacuates crude from its oil fields to the Bonny Crude Oil Export Terminal.
An SPDC Spokesman, Michael Adande, had said in a statement on Friday that the fire incident occurred at the Rumuekpe-Nkpoku trunk line in Rivers and efforts were ongoing to put out the fire.
“The Shell Petroleum Development company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) confirms that a fire incident occurred on Friday March 3, 2023, on the Rumuekpe-Nkpoku Trunk Line in Rivers State.
By Nathan Nwakamma