Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
There were indications on Tuesday evening that armed militants operating in the Niger Delta may have again blown up a gas pipeline operated by Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) at Ogbembiri in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
The latest attack makes it the umpteenth time oil and gas facilities belonging to the Italian oil giant would be breached in the state this year alone.
The fresh attack by gunmen, it was learnt, occurred on the pipeline about 48 hours ago, raising questions within the community over why security agencies saddled with the responsibility of protecting oil installations are unable to stop the frequent breaches.
Suspected ex-militants also recently attacked a pipeline carrying crude oil located at Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, resulting in an oil spill in the environment.
During the latest attack, the gunmen reportedly stormed the community at about 9 pm on Sunday, traced the pipeline and ruptured it at the same point where it had been repaired after the last attack.
While some sources said dynamites were used to blow up the pipeline, others said the gunmen deployed other mechanical devices to rupture the line along the axis.
The pipeline said to be a major gas pipeline in the country, reportedly crosses Tumor community in Bomadi, Delta State, Ogbuasiri in Ekeremor Local Government Area and Ogbembiri in Southern Ijaw, both in Bayelsa State.
“Agip awarded the contract for security surveillance and repairs of the pipeline in the event of a breach to a contractor from the community.
“So the contractor enjoys the dual contract of protecting the pipeline and also repairing it whenever there is a leakage. But it is baffling how the pipeline increasingly comes under attack,” a source said.
He added that it “is a major pipeline because it supplies gas for domestic consumption”, noting that Agip had spent a lot of money fixing it.
While the pipeline is said to be relatively safe in other communities, it is continuously breached in the Southern Ijaw community, the source revealed.