At least 12 workers have been killed and three others have been injured in an oil pipeline blast in Nigeria’s southern Bayelsa state, said Italy’s oil giant Eni on Friday.
“The explosion resulted in the death of 12 members of the maintenance team of a local company of services," said the spokesman for Eni, Filipo Cotalini.
He added that the explosion occurred on Thursday at the site of repair works of the Tebidaba-Clough Creek line, an oil pipeline in Nigeria’s onshore Niger Delta
The bodies were reportedly seen floating on the river as the research team was trying to find the casualties.
Rome-based Eni announced on Friday that the Tebidaba-Clough Creek pipeline was previously “damaged by acts of sabotage.”
A joint investigation team of Eni is still investigating the cause of the Thursday’s incident with local community and the state’s environment officials.
“The dead were unidentifiable,” said Alagoa Morris of Environmental Rights Action, the Nigerian affiliate of Friends of the Earth.
“Two people that were seriously wounded were rushed to Port Harcourt last night for medical attention. They were badly burnt but they were still alive.”
Eni, through Agip, has a joint venture with Africa’s biggest crude oil producer Nigeria’s state oil company.
The oil-rich south of the country has been facing a major hazard in oil spills.
In March, Amnesty International expressed frustration with Eni and its counterparts at Royal Dutch Shell over legacy of oil spills in the Niger Delta region and claimed that 553 oil spills were reported by Agip (Azienda Generale Italiana Petroli - General Italian Oil Company).
According to the rights group, Eni had “clearly lost control” over operations in the Niger Delta.
Hundreds of people have been killed in pipeline accidents in Nigeria over the last decade.
The country’s largest city Lagos faced an explosion when oil pipeline was ravaged and started to catch fire. The incident claimed at least 200 lives and burned many more in December 2006.
In May 2006, 200 people were killed due to another oil pipeline blast near Lagos.