LAGOS, April 25 — South Nigeria’s Imo state is working to shut illegal oil refineries following an explosion at one that killed over 100 people on Friday night, officials said on Sunday.
“The government is concerned with anything that affects lives,” said Declan Emelumba, the state’s commissioner for information, in a statement.
Emelumba, who described the explosion as a sad development, said the state government recently set up an anti-oil bunkering committee to take all necessary measures to stamp out illegal oil refineries.
On his part, the state commissioner for petroleum resources, Goodluck Opiah, said the issue of illegal oil bunkering has been well known in Imo and the oil-rich Niger Delta.
“We are directly working with the army to destroy illegal oil bunkering sites,” said Opiah, who addressed the media at Abacheke, a community near the explosion site.
“It is a sabotage to the economy,” he said. “We will continue to carry out advocacy campaigns and strict measures to stamp out such illegal activities.”
The explosion occurred late Friday at an illegal oil refinery in the Egbema local government area, between the southern states of Imo and Rivers.
Early this month, the Nigerian navy launched a special operation to stop oil thieves from further sabotaging the nation’s oil and gas installations.
Awwal Gambo, the chief of naval staff, said at the launch of the operation that attacks on oil and gas facilities are one of the main reasons that led to the nation’s economic downturn.
Oil pipeline vandalism and oil theft are frequently reported in Nigeria. Illegal oil refineries operate by tapping crude oil from pipelines and distilling it into products in improvized tanks. (Xinhua)