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February 4, 2022

Nigerian FPSO vessel explodes; 10 missing, oil spilled

The vessel was working on the Ukpokiti field near the Niger delta.

By Matt Farmer

A floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel has exploded off the coast of Nigeria, threatening ecological disaster.

On Thursday morning, the Trinity Spirit exploded close to the delta of the River Niger. The vessel had been working on the Ukpokiti field, near the Escravos terminal. The sinking wreckage of the vessel can be seen burning in images shared on social media.

The ship has a capacity of two million barrels of oil. Reuters has reported that the vessel had 50,000 barrels of oil in storage when it exploded but was not pumping at the time.

Lagos-based Shebah Exploration and Production Co (SEPCOL) owns the vessel. SEPCOL CEO Ikemefuna Okafor told Reuters: “At this time there are no reported fatalities, but we can confirm that there were ten crew men on board the vessel prior to the incident and we are prioritising investigations with respect to their safety and security.”

A statement by the company also said that investigations to find the cause of the explosion had started. It continues: “We appreciate the assistance provided us by the Clean Nigeria Associates, the Chevron team operating in the nearby Escravos facility, and our community stakeholders as well as fishermen, who have been of tremendous assistance since the incident happened.

“We have duly notified all relevant authorities and we appeal to the members of the public to stay away from the area while our Crisis Management Team continue to monitor the situation and update all stakeholders with new information as the investigation evolves.”

The spill follows leakage from a supposedly capped wellhead in December. This leaked 20,000 barrels of oil per day into water near Nembe, in the state of Bayelsa. This contributed to the loss of 2.4 million barrels of oil equivalent, according to OPEC.

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