Nigeria Pipeline on Fire After Rupture by Thieves in Sapele

Fuel thieves in Nigeria ruptured a pipeline transporting kerosene in the southern town of Sapele, causing an explosion and fire, according to Nigerian National Petroleum Corp.

“The supply of products won’t be affected because we’re not shutting down any of our facilities in the area,” Levi Ajuonuma, a spokesman for the state-owned company, said today by phone from Abuja, the capital. The fire is under control and an investigation is continuing, he said.

Twenty people were killed in the blast, Lagos-based Daily Independent newspaper reported, citing eyewitnesses. Ajuonuma declined to comment on casualties. Local police couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer, has four state-owned refineries with the capacity to process 445,000 barrels of crude a day. Oil supplies have been intermittently disrupted by attacks on pipelines by militants and oil thieves in the southern Niger River delta. NNPC has used ships to transport crude to its 125,000 barrel-a-day Warri Refinery to decrease its reliance on piped oil.

Nigeria consumes about 30 million liters of fuel a day, or 188,700 barrels, and currently imports to meet demand.