Thursday, May 15, 2008

Helping oil prices go up with poor headline writing

Here's the BBC headline: Oil pipeline explodes in Nigeria.

Holy cow! Sounds like a spontaneous blast spelling oil shortages and all kinds of bad stuff. But here's the real story:
...a bulldozer burst the pipeline, Reuters reports.
Bloomberg reports it's a refined product pipeline, something left out of other reports:
A pipeline used to transport gasoline exploded in a suburb of Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos, killing ``many people,'' said Okon Umoh, a spokeswoman for the Nigerian Red Cross.
Later reports have narrowed the "many" to "ten."

And as the Bloomberg article points out, it is not a pipeline used for exporting crude, but
The affected pipeline is part of a domestic fuel-distribution network running from Lagos Port to different parts of the west African nation.
You know, the sort of thing that happen anywhere.

UPDATE: Death toll increases to "about 100" it says here:
"About 100 people were confirmed dead in the explosion. We have also evacuated about 20 others to the Ikeja general hospital," Mekudi told AFP. Most of the injured had suffered serious burns, he added.

Pipeline fires are commonplace in Nigeria, Africa's biggest oil producer, in part because of poor pipeline maintenance but also because of thieves who vandalise pipelines to siphon off petrol to sell on the black market.

On December 25, around 40 people died in a fire at a pipeline in a creek in Lagos after it was vandalised by looters. Exactly one year earlier, more than 200 people died scooping fuel from a vandalised pipeline in another Lagos district.

More than 1,000 villagers burnt to death in 1998 in Jesse, near the southern Delta state oil city of Warri, following the vandalisation of a fuel pipeline. Victims were suspected of scooping petrol to sell on the black market.

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