Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, has said the attack on its facility in the creeks, close to its jetty in Okrika, headquarters of Okrika Local Government Area of Rivers State, did not affect operations at the refinery.
Meanwhile, Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, MEND, has claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that its target was the refinery.
Spokesman of the group, Jomo Gbomo in a statement, said the attack was intended to destroy the refinery, adding that it was the group’s way of expressing its anger with the ongoing amnesty programme for ex-militants in the region, which it described as a fraud.
NNPC’s Executive Director, Services, Mr. Ralph Ugwu, who addressed newsmen, yesterday at the refinery, said vandals were responsible for the attack, adding that no staff of the refinery died in the inferno that reportedly claimed several lives.
It was claimed that some oil thieves had allegedly attacked pipelines belonging to the oil company in the area in the early hours of Sunday. The incident resulted in an explosion that allegedly claimed the lives of some of the vandals.
Ugwu said: “What I want to confirm to you is that our jetty operations are up and running. Our refineries are also up and running.
“The incident has no impact on our operations whatsoever and on our side at NNPC, there is no casualty and the incident has no impact on our refining operations or on our jetty operations.
“I do not want to join issues with whoever is accusing who; whether it is the Pipeline Product Marketing Company, PPMC, or vandals, because I don’t want to say what I don’t know.
“The truth is that nemesis caught up with people that came to steal the product. Their boat exploded. I don’t know about the number of people that died.
“I cannot speak on the area that does not concern NNPC because NNPC did not record any casualty and our operations are going on smoothly.”
However, MEND vowed to carry out more of such attacks, stressing that the amnesty was an avenue for some corrupt politicians to embezzle public funds.
It said: “MEND takes responsibility for the sabotage on May 18, 2014, on the NNPC Refinery Jetty pipelines in Okrika, Rivers State of Nigeria.
“This attack is in line with our ongoing operation Hurricane Exodus, which was intended to bring down the entire refining facility. This facility was infiltrated by a few of our fighters with the aid of our internal agents within the NNPC contrary to speculations that the sabotage was carried out by ‘pipeline vandals and oil thieves’ which is a very convenient phrase used in shielding the truth.’