Blackout Looms as Explosion Rocks Escravos Gas Pipeline Again
Power generation in the country may have hit a fresh snag following the explosion that ruptured the Escravos-Lagos Pipeline on Thursday, even as generation from hydropower plants dropped by 494 megawatts in six days.
There was pandemonium as a heavy explosion rocked the pipeline criss-crossing the Ugbokodo community near the Warri refinery in Okpe Local Government Area of Delta State.
The incident, which sources said occurred around 4am, forced residents of the community to scamper for safety in the bushes when they discovered that the inferno that resulted from the explosion was advancing towards their homes.
It was gathered that some residents, including children, who fled into the bushes, were still missing as of 4:30pm when one of our correspondents left the community.
The PUNCH learnt that the explosion was as a result of leaks from a gas pipeline in the community, which had earlier been reported to the management of the NGC.
According to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, repair work commenced immediately on the facility in order to address the fresh incident.
The NNPC, however, did not state what caused the fresh explosion on the pipeline.
It took the combined efforts of the men of the fire services of the NGC and the Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company as well as other agencies to put out the fire at about 8am.
No life was lost in the incident, which created panic among residents of the area.
Residents of the community who later protested the development accused the management of the NGC of negligence as the community had reported the malfunctioning pipeline to its Ekpan-Warri office without any action being taken.
The protesters led by the Unuevworo of Ugbokodo community, Chief Tobore Ajisha, alleged that the explosion could have been avoided if the leaking pipeline was immediately fixed when members of the community reported the leakage to NGC officials in writing.
Ajisha stated that the community also placed a call to the management of the Nigeria Gas Processing and Transporting Company when the explosion occurred but the firm allegedly refused to act quickly until the inferno gathered momentum.
Efforts to speak with the NGC’s spokesman in the Warri area office, Violin Antaih, were unsuccessful as calls and SMS sent across to him were not unanswered and not replied.
But confirming the explosion, the Commander of the Joint Task Force, Operation Delta Safe, Rear Admiral Suleiman Apochi, said he had yet to get a full briefing on the development as of the time he was contacted.
This is coming four days after the resumption of gas supply to six power plants – Egbin (Lagos), Omotosho I and II (Ondo), and Olorunsogo I and II and Paras Energy (Ogun) – after the completion of the repair work on the pipeline, which was damaged by a fire incident last week.
The plants did not generate any megawatts of electricity for four straight days until Monday when the Escravos-Lagos Pipeline System, which supplies gas to them, came back on stream.