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UPDATED: Fears mount for crew and environment after Nigeria FPSO explosion

UPDATED: Fears mount for crew and environment after Nigeria FPSO explosion

Fears mount for crew and environment after Nigeria FPSO explosion

A floating production, storage, offloading and storage vessel in Nigeria was destroyed by an explosion. Fears are growing about its fate.

Multiple news reports indicate that the blast struck OML 108, where the Trinity Spirit FPSO was located. It was operated by Shebah E&P company Ltd (Sepcol), multiple news reports state.

Reuters quoted Ikemefuna OKafor, Sepcol chief executive, as saying: Although there have been no fatalities at this time, we can confirm that there were ten crewmen aboard the vessel prior to the incident. We are prioritising their safety and security investigations.

Here is a video clip from the incident:

Okafor indicated that investigations are underway into the cause and that attempts to contain it were being made with the help of fishermen, Clean Nigeria Associates, Chevron (which operates the nearby Escravos plant) and other nearby communities.

Reuters reported that Sepcol, a form bankruptcy protection, is currently in receivership.

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Explosion: Two vessels arrived at the scene in Nigeria to extinguish the flames and search out survivors. Photo: @FENTO_ENOCK

The FPSO is located in 80 feet of water and can produce 22,000 barrels of oil per day. It can also store up to 2,000,000 barrels.

Although it is not clear how many barrels were stored on board before the incident, there are growing concerns about the potential impact of an oil spillage.

According to a source in Nigeria, the FPSO was believed to have approximately 200,000 barrels at time of the incident. However, this cannot be confirmed.

Wrecked: The Trinity Spirit FPSO offshore Nigeria was destroyed Photo: @FENTO_ENOCK

According to VesselsValue data, Houston-based Alliance Marine Services, (AMS), is the beneficial owner for the FPSO. Allenne Ltd, which is based in the US, is the registered owner.

Liberia’s flagged floaters are a result of its origins in the mid-1970s. It was originally built in Japan as an oil tanker, before being converted to an FPSO called the Conoco Independence in 1978 for use here in Nigeria.

It has gone through many name changes since then, including Independence Venture, Independence and Ukpokiti before it was renamed Trinity Spirit.

Upstream was unable contact Shebah, and AMS had not yet responded to a request to make a statement.

Shebah owns a 40% stake at OML 108.

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Rystad Energy provided a note commenting on the explosion. It stated that the FPSO was not being produced at the time of the explosion.

Rystad stated that aside from any deaths, “the primary concern” is the potential environmental consequences of the situation. This will be difficult to quantify until the dust settles and the aftermath has been assessed.

Rystad stated that the FPSO was operating at Ukpokiti from 1997 to 2019, adding that it is “likely” the unit has not been producing any oil since 2019. He also said that the unit has been used primarily for storage.

“The Trinity Spirit could store up to 2,000,000 barrels crude oil. But it is unlikely that the Trinity Spirit was operating at full capacity at the time of the incident.”

Rystad stated that an oil sill from Trinity Spirit would likely have a much lower impact than the most recent large-scale offshore oil spillage, the Deepwater Horizon disaster which resulted in the release of approximately 4.9 Million barrels of oil into US Gulf of Mexico.

The hull for the Trinity Spirit was constructed in 1976. It was updated in 1997. Rystad said that this demonstrates the vessel’s age. He added that the FPSO was “at the end its lifespan” and is a concern for similar vessels operating in Nigerian waters.

* Article updated with comment from Rystad Energy

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