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Nigeria loses 20 million dollars from vandalised pipelines Agence France-Presse

July 21, 2000

LAGOS, July 21 (AFP) - Nigeria lost nearly two billion naira (20 million dollars) during the first five months of 2000 because of vandalism of fuel pipelines, the state-run oil giant's managing director said in comments broadcast on Friday.

"More than one billion naira was lost in volume of the products. If you add repair costs of the pipelines, we have lost close to two billion naira," Jackson Gaius-Obaseki, managing director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), said in an interview broadcast on Nigerian television.

People regularly risk their lives in the southern Niger Delta state by fracturing pipelines and scooping up fuel for sale on the black market.

The delta region is the centre of the oil industry, which produces more than 30 percent of GDP and more than 90 percent of foreign earnings. But residents there are increasingly frustrated with the lack of jobs and amenities in the region.

Incidents of vandalism of pipelines are growing, said Gaius-Obaseki, who held talks Wednesday in Warri with the Governor of Delta State, James Ibori.

The talks, which included security chiefs, focused on ways of curbing vandalism.

The NNPC's fuel marketing subsidiary said earlier this month that pipelines were fractured by fuel thieves 497 times last year and about 200 times in the first quarter of this year alone.

On July 10, about 300 people died when a fractured pipeline exploded between Ovire Court and Adeje in the Niger Delta.

In October 1998, in Jesse, in the same state, about 1,000 who were scrambling to collect fuel from a pipeline died in a similar explosion.

Meanwhile, Gaius-Obaseki said there was fear that people living in areas where pipelines are vandalised are at higher risk of suffering from health problems.

"The fear and mourning are not for the dead but for millions of Nigerians living in communities around the vandalised sites, who would be inhaling hydro-carbon vapour and would either suffer lung cancer or begin to die gradually," he said.

COPYRIGHT 2000 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved.

-- Martin Thompson (, July 21, 2000

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