The explosion of an illegal oil refinery in Nigeria kills more than

More than 100 people were killed overnight in an explosion at an illegal oil refining depot in Nigeria’s Rivers state, a local government official and environmental group said on Saturday.

“The fire occurred at an illegal bunker site and affected more than 100 people who were burned beyond recognition,” said state Petroleum Resources Commissioner Goodluck Opiah.

Unemployment and poverty in the oil-producing Niger Delta have made illegal crude oil refining an attractive business, albeit with deadly consequences. Crude oil is extracted from a network of pipelines owned by major oil companies and refined into products in makeshift reservoirs.

The dangerous process has led to many fatal accidents and polluted an already devastated region with oil spills in farmland, creeks and lagoons.

The Youths and Environmental Advocacy Center said several vehicles queuing to buy illegal fuel were burned in the blast.

At least 25 people, including children, were killed in an explosion and fire at another illegal refinery in Rivers State in October.

In February, local authorities said they had launched a crackdown to try to halt the refining of stolen crude, but with little apparent success.

Government officials estimate that Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer and exporter, loses an average of 200,000 barrels of oil a day – more than 10% of production – to those who exploit or vandalize pipelines.

This has forced oil companies to regularly declare force majeure on oil and gas exports.

(Reuters)

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