Port Harcourt, Nigeria | – An explosion at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Port Hacrourt Refinery jetty in Okrika Local Government Area of Rivers State, South South Nigeria left at least seven people dead.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) South-South Zonal Coordinator Umesi Emenike confirmed a fire incident on Sunday morning near the Port Harcourt refinery.
Nogtec confirmed from the NNPC spokesman Ralph Ugwu that the blast did not damage installations and did not affect operations at 210,000-barrels-per-day capacity refinery in the southern oil hub of Port Harcourt.
The local government council chairman Tamuno Williams told journalists that, “From what I have been told, there are casualties. Seven persons were said to have lost their lives.”
Emenike was quoted by News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the NEMA officials were evaluating the situation to determine if there is loss of life and property.
The blast at the refinery was attributed to the illegal tapping of petroleum products by pipeline vandals.
Meanwhile, a militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s explosion at the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) jetty, Okrika, Rivers State, which left an unspecified number of people dead and scores injured.
This came as the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) called for urgent probe of the incident.
In a statement posted online Monday afternoon, MEND said the explosion was part of its Operation ‘Hurricane Exodus” aimed at sabotaging oil installations in the Niger Delta region.
The statement signed by its spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, read, “The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) takes responsibility for the sabotage on Sunday, 18 May, 2014 , on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Refinery Jetty pipelines in Okrika, Rivers State of Nigeria”.