General – Explosion
The Trinity Spirit floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel that exploded off the coast of Nigeria this week had not been maintained for some time and had technical issues, two sources and an environmental group said on Friday, as its wreckage lay in the sea after the fire was put out.
The 10 crew members who were on board at the time of the explosion early on Wednesday remained unaccounted for, according to witnesses, amid fears they may have been caught in the fire.
A Reuters witness saw the burnt-out remains of the Trinity Spirit floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel, which broke into two and partially submerged but there was no evidence of spilled crude.
It was not immediately clear who had put out the fire but vessel owner Shebah Exploration & Production said on Thursday it had received help from surrounding communities and Chevron, which has a facility nearby.
Nnimmo Bassey, from Health of Mother Foundation, which tracks oil spills in Nigeria said the vessel, which has been in operation for more than 30 years, had outlived its lifespan of 20 years, should have been decommissioned and was not supposed to carry any crude.
The owner of the vessel was not available for comment.
An industry source with knowledge of operations of the Trinity Spirit FPSO said until five years ago, other companies, including large oil traders, stored their crude on the vessel, which had the capacity to produce 22,000 barrels per day and could store 2 million barrels.
A trading source who used to occasionally store oil on the vessel but stopped because of ‘too many technical issues. Old and badly maintained.’
The industry source added that there could have been problems with the vessel’s boilers and that it kept no more than 20,000 barrels of crude.
“Most, if not all of the big trading companies stopped using it several years ago,” the source told Reuters.
A team of government investigators who were set to tour the site of the incident on Friday would now travel on Saturday, officials said.
Three alive, seven missing
Three crew members on board the Trinity Spirit have been found alive, while seven are still missing, according to the ship’s operator.
Ikemefuna Okafor, the executive officer of Shebah Exploration & Production Company (SEPCOL), said late on Sunday the company would ensure the survivors receive the appropriate medical attention.
Okafor added that “one dead body was discovered in the vicinity”, but it was not immediately clear if it was of a crew member.
“The identity of the dead body is yet to be ascertained,” Okafor said. Efforts to locate the remaining crew members, “clean up and limit damage to the environment, and establish the cause of the explosion” are ongoing, he added.