SaharaReporters has learned that an official of the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) was among the victims of the pipeline explosion at Agip’s oil field in Azuzuama, Southern Ijaw LGA, in Bayelsa.
The official was simply identified as Osita and hailed from Enugu State. The Bayelsa Ministry of Environment also lost one of its most enterprising directors, Theophilus Duabo, in the explosion, which is believed to have been caused by Agip’s poor safety standards.
A soldier attached to the Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta was also among the dead in the pipeline mishap at Agip’s field.
It was gathered that Nigerian Government officials connived with Eni, which operates in Nigeria as Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), to shield the number of casualties from the public.
Neither NOSDRA, the Bayelsa Ministry of Environment, nor the JTF has reacted publicly to Thursday’s incident, in which some of their staff lost their lives.
Eni had said that 12 maintenance staff of an indigenous oil service company died in the accident, but SaharaReporters learned that in fact at least 3 government officials died in the accident apart from the 12 workers confirmed dead by Agip.
The Bayela Police Command on Saturday said it has so far recovered the remains of only 6 victims of Thursday’s crude oil pipeline explosion, fueling the fears of a larger casualty and inconsistencies.
“Twelve persons were burnt beyond recognition, which included a soldier on guard duty,” a police spokesperson said. “Six other bodies were recovered. Four persons were rescued alive and are undergoing treatment, while two persons are still missing. Search for the missing persons is ongoing.”
From the forgoing, six bodies amongst those confirmed dead and the two declared missing remain outstanding and unaccounted for.
Agip said on Friday that 12 personnel of its oil services contractor died in a pipeline explosion which occurred on Thursday afternoon at Agip’s oil fields in Azuzuama in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area in Bayelsa.
Officials of NAOC, representatives of the host community, and the Bayelsa Ministry of Environment were investigating the cause of a recent oil spill in the area when the explosion occurred.
According to a statement issued by a spokesperson from Eni, the parent company of NAOC, the cause of the explosion is being investigated.
“Eni confirms that an explosion occurred yesterday, 9 July late afternoon, at the site of the repair works of the Tebidaba-Clough Creek line, an oil pipeline in Nigeria’s onshore Niger Delta, previously damaged by acts of sabotage,” the statement said. “The explosion resulted in the death of 12 members of the maintenance team of a local company of services, with 3 others being injured. The causes of the incident are still under investigation by both Eni and the local authorities.
“The company expresses its deepest condolences to the families involved in this tragic accident,” the firm stated.