Three teenagers have been killed, and one seriously injured after a fire outbreak in an illegal crude oil refining camp popularly known as Kpo-fire in Bayelsa State.
The incident occurred between Ibelebiri and Otuegue two communities in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
The deceased teenagers, Victory Friday, Endurance Glazio, and James Abaye, were said to be working when one of their colleagues who was providing security around the camp attempted to light a cigarette, causing the explosion that claimed the three lives while leaving one severely burnt.
According to a community source, just last year about 55 persons were burnt to death in the same manner in the illegal crude oil refining camp which is close to Kolo Creek flow station operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) with heavy military presence.
The community source further explained that despite police presence, illegal activities still thrive.
“The camp has been existing for about six years now. And it would surprise you to know that the camp is just by the Ignogene-Otuasega road. Before the camp along the road, there is a security post manned by police and after the camp, you have the Kolo Creek flow station that is operated by SPDC. That place is also manned by soldiers yet these boys still operate freely,” he said.
“In fact, a day after the fire incident, the ones that escaped the fire went back to camp to continue cooking crude again when youths of Oruma community where one of the deceased comes from went there and stopped them.
“You know that in their process of refining, they could only refine Petroleum Motor Spirit, Diesel, and Kerosene. Because their method of refining is crude, they leave a lot of gas in the air. So one of their colleagues providing security around the camp struck a match stick trying to light a cigarette and the next thing was an explosion.
“We come to realize that the boys involved in this illicit act are from crude oil-producing communities. And because they are not on the cluster board where they could get benefits, they feel cheated and think the only way they can benefit is to steal the crude and illegally refine it.”