Nigeria’s crude oil export has suffered a major setback as the reopened 48-inch offshore Forcados crude export line operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State has been blown up again by suspected militants.
The incident, which our correspondent gathered occurred last week Wednesday, has led to a massive crude oil spill in the sea and creeks around communities of Ogulagha Kingdom, which hosts to the Forcados terminal.
Although no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, security sources told our correspondent on Tuesday that militants in the Niger Delta region were behind the destruction of the line.
Security and community sources, who confirmed the incident, said the attack happened in the early hours of Wednesday last week.
It was gathered that military’s trail of the militants who carried out the attack was what led to the raiding of some Gbaramatu communities in Warri South West Local Government Area of the state.
A senior military source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the press on the matter, said Shell’s technical team deployed to curtail the spill had battled for two days on the high sea to stop further spread.
However, some community sources who spoke with our correspondent, said the breach on the line was not as a result of militants’ attack.
The sources, who claimed to have accompanied the Shell team to visit the site of the spill, said the export line ruptured due to old age, noting that it was the second section of the reopened line, which early this year was attacked by members of the Niger Delta Avengers.
“It is absurd for anyone to claim that this spill was a product of militants’ attack on the recently reopened line. As we speak, the people of Ogulagha Kingdom are swimming in crude oil. From what we gathered, the export pipeline has not been changed in the last 30 years since they opened it,” one the sources said.
The Chairman of the Ogulagha community, Mr. Solomon Prebor, who confirmed the breach, said it was not yet clear if the spill was as a result of militant attack.
Prebor said it was only through a joint investigation visit that could ascertain the true cause of the spill, which he added had massively affected the various communities situated around the sea bank.
When contacted, the Coordinator, Joint Media Campaign Centre, Operation Delta Safe, Lt.-Col. Olaolu Daudu, promised to investigate and get back with details.
A spokesperson for Shell Petroleum Development Company, Mr. Joseph Obari said, “SPDC is investigating reports of an attack on the Forcados crude export pipeline. We will communicate relevant updates as necessary.”
“We continue to monitor the security situation in our operating areas and are taking all possible steps to ensure the safety of staff and contractors.”