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Massive gas explosion in Rivers State, Nigeria

On 2 April 2012, the Nigerian communities of Egita, Ogbogu, Obite and Obiyebe in Rivers State experienced yet another gas incident.

This time, it was a gas production site of Total Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited (TEPNL), Ibewa. Here, Total uses the technology of horizontal drilling, which is usually applied in offshore gas fields. The horizontal drilling seemed to lead to underground explosion and fires in March which successively caused multiple gas eruption all over the communities. Production from the Obite gas plant was stopped.

Total claimed the accident occured in an uninhabited area and that now injuries were caused and that no hydrocarbons or toxic elements were found in the daily water and air quality controls.

People however reported that they were told to stop drinking water from their common sources. They also speak of the smell of the gas that they inhale and that they are suffering breathing and stomach problems.

There were new safety signs warning people not to light fire, not to use mobile phones or motor bikes and mud being carried high up into the air by the pressure of the gas. Community members also lamented that Total only put information online and avoided direct communication with the poeple who are most of the time lacking internet access.