The death toll in Nigeria’s Osisioma fuel pipeline fire has risen to 200, up from the 16 deaths originally reported by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) last week.
“The oil pipeline fire outbreak along the Osisioma axis near Aba Depot might have been caused by suspected oil thieves who had hacked into the line to intercept flow of petrol from Port Harcourt to Aba,” a NNPC spokesperson said.
NNPC’s network of over 5,000 km pipelines is often targeted by oil thieves who intercept the facilities to siphon crude or oil products.
Nigeria’s four state-owned refineries have operated with sporadic interruptions partly because of sabotage attacks on pipelines feeding crude to the refineries.
Protestors, however, have blamed the fire on negligence on NNPC’s part, by pumping fuel through a leaking pipeline, which had been abandoned for over three years.
The NNPC shut down the System 2E oil pipeline network, which supplies imported gasoline and output from the Port Harcourt refineries to the southeast and north of the country, on Monday owing to the incident.
The NNPC said it had been prevented from pumping fuel to the south-eastern Enugu Depot, which has remained underutilised despite its recent rehabilitation by the NNPC.