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Agence France-Press: New fire outbreak at Nigerian Shell facility: official

LAGOS (AFP) — A fire broke out at a southern Nigerian gas plant run by Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell on Friday, the day after it was reopened following closure because of a blaze last week, officials said.

“The incident happened at the same spot as last Friday’s. A helicopter fly-over shows there is a burning boat in the vicinity but it can’t be ascertained yet that it is sabotage,” Shell spokesman Aori Obaigbo told AFP.

Obaigbo said Shell’s firefighters have already been moved to the site at the 300-million-standard cubit feet gas plant at Utorogu, adding that the company is waiting results of a probe into the fire.

The company said in a statement late Thursday that production had resumed after temporary repairs at the Utorogu-Ughelli pumping station, part of which was set on fire on October 12 by suspected vandals.

“Utorogu Gas Plant which was shut in a bit to starve the fire has reopened and gas supply is ramping up,” it said.

Local media had reported that around 10 people were burnt alive while scooping condensate, a by-product of oil, from a burst pipeline running from the gas plant.

The Anglo-Dutch group also said it had put out the fires caused by sabotage on its Trans Niger pipeline in the oil-rich but volatile Ogoniland.

“The company’s firefighters put out the final fire on October 16, 2007. With this development, all the six fires in Ogoniland are now out and all the vandalised sections repaired,” it said.

The Trans Niger pipeline is a major facility that evacuates crude from Shell and third-party facilities to the Bonny exports terminal, but Ogoni residents initially denied Shell access to the fires which raged since June.

Ogoniland is a hotbed of civil unrest in the Niger Delta, home to Nigeria’s multi-billion-dollar oil and gas resources.

Shell’s supply pipelines still pass through the area despite the company being forced to quit Ogoniland in 1993 because of Ogoni community opposition to foreign oil companies — particularly Shell, which is accused of destroying their ecosystem without paying adequate compensation.

Shell is Nigeria’s largest operator, accounting for around half of the country’s daily output of 2.6 million barrels at peak production, a quarter of which is lost to unrest in the Niger Delta. and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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