Pipeline Explosion Averted

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Andrew Yakubu, GED, NNPC

THE Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, on June 26, averted a pipeline explosion in Lagos. The Pipelines and Products Marketing Company, PPMC, the marketing arm of the NNPC, said it successfully put out the fire which rocked the Akinbo Jetty, in Ilado area, when some suspected pipelines vandals attempted to siphon products from the pipelines. But efforts from, the NNPC, the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, saved the situation.

Ibrahim Farinloye, spokesperson, NEMA, Southwest, said rescue efforts from the NNPC, NIMASA and other specialised agencies put out the fire. “The fire did not start from the main pipeline, rather, the valves supplying the product exploded. The first batch of our team reached there around 7.30am and the fire was put out at the Akinbo Jetty of Atlas Cove,” he said.

Initial reports that the explosion happened at the Atlas Cove was denied by the PPMC. Nasir Imodagbe, PPMC spokesperson, said the incident took place at Ilado, a notorious spot for pipeline vandalism in Lagos. “There was no explosion at the Atlas Cove on June 26. What happened was that vandals attacked a pipeline at Ilado and in the process their canoe gutted fire. The fire also extended to the pipeline, and our engineers immediately swung into action and successfully put out the fire. Now we are in the process of repairing the pipeline,” he said.

Waiting on the Wings

Dikki
Dikki

THE Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, has concluded arrangements to hand over Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, to bidders of successor companies soon.  Benjamin Dikki, director-general, BPE said the core investors are expected to fully take over the electricity companies in October.

Dikki said the investors have to pay the balance of 75 percent of the bid price for the respective companies before taking over. He assured that power supply in the country would improve when the private investors take over. The BPE boss expressed confidence that the introduction of maintenance culture would ensure that the current installed capacity of 6,000 megawatts was exploited and put on the national grid, stressing that this alone would stabilise power supply in the country.

Dikki appealed that the investors be given time to increase capacity as they would, after taking over, re-equip the transmitting plants and bring in new machineries like turbines, which are not easily bought off the shelf, to put power generation and supply on proper footing. He said the investors would need time to retool after takeover and that between two and three years would be required to bring in the needed machineries, after which the country would witness increased and steady power supply.

He noted that any investor that was unable to pay the 75 percent bid balance within six months from the date the mandatory 25 percent bid payment was made would be penalised. He, however, expressed the confidence that all the investors were serious businessmen who had the required financial muscle to make the payment.

Who Dun Nit?

AMNESTY International and the Nigerian National Coalition on Gas Flaring and Oil Spills, NACGOND, have demanded an investigation into the recent fire incident that forced Shell to close its Trans Niger Pipeline in southern Nigeria. The organisations called for an independent inquiry into the incidents that led to the fire at Bodo in Rivers State which, they said has raised serious questions about the way the oil giant is operating.

Gaughran
Gaughran

Eight Shell contractors were arrested by Nigerian security services in connection with the fire that broke out, following an oil spill at a section of the pipeline near Bodo that was being repaired by Shell contractors. A Shell-led investigation into the cause of the fire was to have begun work last week. Shell claimed the fire was a consequence of oil theft. However, community members told NACGOND that in the days leading up to the fire, Nigerian security forces prevented anyone other than Shell’s contractors from going near the area of the spill.

Audrey Gaughran, director of Global Issues, Amnesty International, said that Shell’s investigation into the cause of the fire was not enough. “Shell appears more concerned with conducting a PR rather than a clean-up operation. It should focus less on its reputation and start addressing the damage caused to the lives of the people of Bodo. What’s needed is a fully transparent and independent inquiry into what happened at Bodo in the days before the fire and the role Shell’s contractors played. There are serious unanswered questions as to who Shell entrusted with the high-risk repair of the pipeline, and about its own level of oversight,” she said.

Mutiu Sunmonu, country chair, Shell in Nigeria, said, a joint team has been constituted to investigate the causes of the explosion. He said the team would comprise regulators, including the ministry of environment, community members, SPDC and independent observers.

On the reported arrest of some employees of Shell’s contractors and sub-contractors in connection with the explosion, Sunmonu appealed that the arrested suspects be treated in line with the principle of presumption of innocence until proven guilty, and hoped for a speedy and transparent dispensation of justice for anyone found to have violated the laws of the land.

“We are committed to operating transparently, which is why we have invited the National Coalition on Gas Flaring and Oil Spill in the Niger Delta, NACGOND, to join the investigating team as independent observers. We will continue to run our operations as safely as is possible and in accordance with both industry regulations and Nigerian laws,” he said.

Compiled by Anayo Ezugwu 

— Jul. 8, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

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