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Indonesia pipeline blast kills four

04 October 2012

Four people were killed and 18 suffered burn injuries in the early hours of October 3 after an explosion at an oil pipeline in South Sumatra’s Musi Banyuasin district. Police are still investigating the cause of the explosion, but local media reported that it was likely caused by the illegal siphoning of oil. 

Police found a jerrycan containing oil near the site of the explosion, as well as a hole in the pipeline. The pipeline is operated by oil and gas services company Elnusa to supply state oil and gas firm Pertamina EP, which has also sent a team to investigate the incident. 

Firefighting crews from Elnusa, ConocoPhillips and the Musi Banyuasin Fire Department had difficulty putting out the blaze in the aftermath of the explosion, but it was finally extinguished in the early afternoon.

Setia Budi, the head of the provincial office of upstream oil and gas regulator BPMigas, said the site of the explosion was about 200 kilometers northwest of Palembang, the South Sumatra capital. 

BPMigas had earlier warned Elnusa to beef up security to prevent the theft of oil from its pipelines, after Pertamina EP reported losing 39,000 barrels of crude in May alone from illegal tapping in Jambi. 

The amount of stolen crude increased to more than 59,000 barrels in June, or almost 18 percent of the total volume of crude oil passing through the Tempino-Plaju pipe network. 

In a press statement following the blast, Pertamina EP noted that the site of this incident was the area with the highest incidents of oil theft along the pipe network. 

It recorded 158 cases of oil theft for the whole of 2011. The incidents have more than doubled this year to 373 in just the first nine months of 2012.  

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