The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) has launched investigation into explosion near a pipeline in Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Its Chief Executive Officer, Mr Gbenga Komolafe stated on Friday in Abuja that it began the investigation in conjunction with relevant stakeholders and would provide updates appropriately.
According to Komolafe, the investigation is in line with NUPRC’s statutory regulatory oversight of upstream operations in the oil and gas industry.
“NUPRC wishes to announce that an explosion leading to a major fire incident near a pipeline in Rumuekpe community in Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers on Thursday night has been reported.
“There are speculations about the level of casualties, but the Commission cannot confirm any until after our investigation,’’ Komolafe stated.
He assured that NUPRC would take all necessary measures to ensure that safety and environmental measures were put in place in line with global best practices to safeguard lives and the environment.
According to reports an explosion on an oil pipeline owned by Shell reportedly killed at least one person and injured another on Friday.
Reports said members of the affected community in Emohua fear many more had died in the blast.
A spokesperson for Shell Petroleum Development company of Nigeria Limited said a fire incident occurred on its Rumuekpe-Nkpoku Trunk Line in Rivers State and that it was working with authorities to put it out.
Garuba Yabuku, Civil Defense spokesman for Emohua, in Rivers State, said the incident was reported around 4:30 a.m. (0330 GMT)
“The pipeline was gutted by fire. We are not sure the number of casualties but a lady was rescued and body burnt. We are still on rescue operations,” he said at the scene, where the fire was still blazing from the pipeline next to five burned out vehicles flanked by a palm forest.
“Many people got burnt inside the fire, males and females. It could be up to 15 in number,” community leader Ogbonna Francis told Reuters at the scene.
SPD said an investigation by a government-led joint team would commence to find the cause of the incident.
Oil theft and pipeline sabotage are common in the southern oil production heartland of Nigeria, Africa’s biggest crude producer. The methods used to steal oil often result in accidents that cause fires.
In April last year, a similar disaster killed 100 people