Forcados terminal pipeline under repairs when blast hit
By Tife Owolabi and Alexis Akwagyiram
LAGOS, Nov 8 (Reuters) – A blast on Tuesday rocked a pipeline operated by Nigeria’s state-run oil firm that feeds the Forcados terminal in the southern Niger Delta energy hub, a spokesman for Nigerian National Petroleum Corp (NNPC) said.
The explosion occurred while the pipeline was being repaired following an attack last week, NNPC spokesman Garba Deen Muhammad said.
A week ago, community leaders from the restive region, the source of most of Nigeria’s oil, met the president and asked him to pull the army out of the energy hub, order oil firms to move headquarters there and spend more on development to end militancy in the region.
“Militants bombed major contractors’ equipment at Eresigbene along the Trans Forcados Pipeline,” said Muhammad, who added that the attack took place shortly before 12:30 a.m. (2330 GMT).
The NNPC spokesman said some equipment used by the contractors – including a barge and crane – had sunk. The repairs were being carried out following an attack at the same location, near the southern city of Warri, last week.
Last week’s attack forced the closure of the Trans Forcados Pipeline, the main contributor to the Forcados crude stream, cutting the OPEC member’s oil production by at least 200,000 barrels per day (b/d).
“There was a serious fire and most people working narrowly escaped being shot by the gunmen, who opened fire on them,” said a community leader, who did not want to be identified, describing the latest attack.
He said the attack happened because “the boys claimed they were not happy” that repair work was being carried out.
Last week’s attack pushed Nigeria’s output back below 2 million b/d a day after the minister of state for oil said overall production had recovered to around 2.1 million b/d. Months of attacks on oil installations had cut output by more than 600,000 b/d.
(Editing by Dale Hudson)