| 26 September 2022, Monday |

Nigerian oil production and storage vessel explodes

An oil production and storage tanker detonated off the coast of Nigeria early Wednesday, killing ten crew members. It was unclear whether there were any deaths or how much petroleum was discharged into the water.

Shebah Exploration & Production Company Ltd (SEPCOL) of Nigeria reported on Thursday that flames had devoured the Trinity Spirit floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) vessel after the blast the day before.
Joe Sunday, an assistant boat driver, claimed he was on one of two speed boats out at sea on Wednesday morning to pick up some crew members who were supposed to take time off work but couldn’t since the vessel had caught fire.

Tiby Tea, head of the Nigerian Ports Authority’s Maritime Union in Warri, said that two boats dispatched to the vessel were unable to locate anyone.
“At this moment, there have been no confirmed deaths,” SEPCOL Chief Executive Ikemefuna Okafor said in a statement. “However, we can confirm that there were 10 crewmen on board the vessel prior to the event, and we are prioritising inquiries with respect to their safety and security.”

According to SEPCOL’s website, the Trinity Spirit can process up to 22,000 barrels of oil per day and store up to 2 million barrels.

According to one industry source in Nigeria’s oil sector, the vessel had around 50,000 barrels of petroleum in store but was not pumping crude from the Ukpokiti oilfield in the OML 108 block.

In 2019, the Nigerian regulator, now called as the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), canceled OML 108’s production license. The block is technically operated by SEPCOL, although the production license is owned by consortium member Express Petroleum.

SEPCOL, which is in receivership, did not reply to inquiries regarding how much crude Trinity Spirit was keeping at the time of the explosion.

When BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig burst in 2010, it was spewing tens of thousands of barrels per day. 4 million barrels of crude had poured into the Gulf of Mexico by the time the well was capped 87 days later, producing an environmental calamity.

“We will release a full statement free of conjecture only when we have received the report of this inquiry from our staff,” he added.

Okafor of SEPCOL said that investigations were ongoing to determine the source of the explosion, and that efforts were being made to control the issue with assistance from local communities and the U.S. oil major Chevron, which has a site nearby.

According to SEPCOL’s website, the Trinity Spirit is the principal production facility for OML 108, which encompasses 750 square kilometers (290 square miles) of water off the Niger Delta at depths ranging from 30 meters to 213 meters.

  • Reuters