Nigerian police has announced that a fuel leak caused the explosion of the national oil company pipeline on Thursday, a blast which militant group Niger Delta Avengers claimed to have caused.
A Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) oil pipeline in the Akwa Ibom State of southern Nigeria exploded in the early hours of Thursday.
Later in the morning, the militant group Niger Delta Avengers, which is fighting for ownership of the oil-rich Niger Delta region, announced via Twitter that they blew up the NNPC pipeline.
“At 4:00am @NDAvengers blow [sic] up NNPC Pipeline in Oruk Anam Local Government Area in Akwa Ibom,” they stated.
At 4:00am— Niger Delta Avengers (NDAvengers) June 16, 2016
NDAvengersblow up NNPC Pipeline in Oruk Anam Local Government Area in Akwa Ibom.
The Akwa Ibom police chief, Murtala Mani, rebuffed their claims saying the explosion was caused by a fuel leak and not by an attack.
He added that engineers are trying to repair the damage caused, AFP reports.
The Niger Delta Avengers have claimed a series of attacks on oil pipelines mostly in the Delta and Bayelsa States of southern Nigeria.
Their attacks are aimed at crippling the country’s fuel production capacity to get the government’s attention over their demands for an equal distribution of oil resources and independence of the Niger Delta region.
The Nigerian government earlier downplayed the effect of the attacks on its economy but later decided to hold talks with the group in order to solve the impasse.
The group rejected the invitation for talks and later requested for independent foreign negotiators before they will agree to the talks.
The increasing attacks against oil installations has reduced Nigeria’s crude production to 1.6 million barrels per day, well below the 2.2 million forecast in the 2016 budget.