From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa

There was panic in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital as a pipeline explosion at an area bordering Obungha and Onopa communities in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State caused pandemonium.

The area is also close to the multi-billion dollar Gbarain Ubie Oil facility owned by oil major Shell Petroleum Development Company.

The gas facility which commenced operations in 2010 is believed to be the most prized gas asset in the Niger Delta region which processes 2 billion standard cubic feet of gas per day.

Already Shell is said to be probing the incident, ruling out immediate shut-down of the Gbarian gas facility.

Investigation revealed that residents of the area heard loud sounds of explosion which attracted them to the area where they saw billows of smoke.

A resident of the area, Ovie Ogbuku said the explosion shook the foundations of the earth and caused pandemonium.

Also speaking Uche Ede said residents because of the inferno caused by the explosion could not go into the bush to ascertain what actually happened.

Related News

“We have no idea of the cause of the explosion but we are grateful no life was lost because it was far away from the residential area,’’ he said.

An environmentalist, Mr Morris Alagos who confirmed the incident stated that he had been to the area but could also not ascertain what led to the explosion.

He however dismissed claims that the explosion happened close to the Gbarian Ubie gas plant, noting that where the explosion happened was close to Onopa.

Shell in a statement assured that it is monitoring the situation through communication with residents of the area.

“We are actively monitoring reports of smoke detected near our Gbaran Central Processing facility in Bayelsa State. While the source appears to be external to our facility, we are in close communication with regulatory authorities to look into the incident and ensure safety of the surrounding communities’’ Shell stated in a statement.