Pandemonium, on Sunday, rocked communities around Ughelli axis in Delta State as fire gutted a pipeline belonging to the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC).
Residents at Otu-Jeremi said the loud explosion on the NPDC facility went up in flames causing great panic.
It was not clear whether any group or persons had claimed responsibility for the explosion.
Residents are of the general belief that militants might be behind the sabotage.
The Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate, (NDGJM), it will be recalled, had not too long, launched series of attacks on oil and gas facilities in that area.
The spot of the incident, which was said to have occurred at about 6:40a.m was adjudged some hundreds of metres away from the Otorogu Gas Plant, a multi-billion naira project.
Sources said the loud explosion caused anxiety among local residents of the area, even as they eventually discovered a huge fire emitting from the spot.
The chairman of Ughelli South LGA, Mr Paul Etaga, who had earlier visited the scene of the attack with Lt. Col. U Abdusalam, Commander, 222 Battalion, Agbarha-Otor, Ughelli North council, confirmed the incident.
Etaga decried the attack, saying several economic trees in the area were affected by the fire outbreak.
“The incident led to fire outbreak. Meanwhile firefighters had restored the situation. We appeal to our youths and militants to desist from vandalizing oil facilities. It only causes more harm to us please. Whoever that is responsible for the attack should stop,” he said.
Meanwhile, a military source said the Joint Task Force (JTF) code-named Operation Delta Safe (ODS) has commenced investigations into the cause of the explosion.
Tribune Online also gathered that the Commanding Officer 222 battalion, Agbaraha-Otor, Lt. Col U. S Abdulsalam, the Ughelli South Division Police Officer, Oghenedoro Samuel and other heads of other security agencies in the area had visited the scene of the explosion.
Fire fighters were also said to have successfully put out the inferno.
Coordinator of the Joint Media Campaign Centre of JTF, Lieutenant Colonel Olaolu Marcellinus Daudu, could not be reached, but the acting Spokesman, Lieutenant Commander Thomas Otuji, who ruled out sabotage, confirmed the incident.