Port Harcourt - A fire at a dormant Royal Dutch Shell oil well in southern Nigeria caused by thieves trying to syphon off crude oil has killed at least one person, residents said on Wednesday.
Several people were badly burned after the explosion at the well-head in K-Dere, a village in Ogoniland in the Niger Delta, one of whom later died from his injuries. The fire was still burning more than a day after the sabotage, residents said.
"From what we know, some people were trying to syphon fuel from the well-head and there was a fire. This is a dormant well, we're not producing from there," a Shell spokesperson said.
Such incidents are frequent in Nigeria, Africa's most populous country and its top exporter of crude. Ninety percent of Nigerians live on less than $2 a day and many are prepared to take huge risks to obtain free fuel.
At least 45 people were burned to death on the outskirts of the commercial capital Lagos on Christmas Day a year ago when fuel they were syphoning from a buried pipeline caught fire.