Explosion at an Illegal Oil Refinery in Nigeria Kills Over 100

The incident follows the recent crackdown by the governor of Rivers State.

2 min read
Explosion at an Illegal Oil Refinery in Nigeria Kills Over 100

An explosion at an illegal oil refinery plant on the border of Nigeria's Rivers and Imo states killed more than 100 people overnight, said a report accessed by Reuters which quoted a local government official and an environmental group.

"The fire outbreak occurred at an illegal bunkering site and it affected over 100 people who were burnt beyond recognition," said the state commissioner for petroleum resources, Goodluck Opiah.

According to the report, the bunkering site was in the Ohaji-Egbema Local Government Area of Imo state in the Abaezi forest which spans the boundary of the two states.

Al Jazeera's Fidelis Mbah reported that the proprietor of the illegal refinery, according to the government, is currently on the run and has been declared sought.

He also added that there are dozens of illegal oil operations throughout southern Nigeria.


Due to unemployment and poverty in the oil-producing Niger Delta, illegal crude refining has become a lucrative enterprise, but it has terrible repercussions. Crude oil is extracted through a network of pipes controlled by large oil firms and processed into products in improvised tanks.

The risky method has resulted in a number of fatalities and has damaged a region already plagued by oil leaks in fields, streams, and lagoons.

Several automobiles in a line to acquire illegal fuel were burned in the explosion, according to the Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre, reported Reuters.

The border site is in response to the Rivers state governor's recent crackdown on illicit refining in an attempt to minimise growing air pollution.

"The Rivers state governor has made a push recently to stamp out illegal refining in Rivers so it has to move to the fringes and neighbouring states. In the last month or two, there were several raids and some security agents involved were tackled," Ledum Mitee, former president of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), said, accessed by Reuters.


In October, an explosion and fire at another illicit refinery in Rivers state killed at least 25 people, including several children.

Local authorities had announced in February that they had begun a crackdown to try to stop the refining of stolen petroleum, but with little apparent result.

According to Government officials, Africa's largest oil producer and exporter, Nigeria, is estimated to lose 200,000 barrels of oil a day – more than 10% of production – to those tapping or vandalising pipelines. As a result, oil companies have been obliged to announce force majeure on oil and gas shipments on a regular basis.

(With inputs from Reuters and Al Jazeera)

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Topics:  Nigeria   Oil Refinery   Nigeria Explosion 

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