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Three crewmembers found alive four days after Nigerian FPSO explosion

07 February 2022

Three crewmembers of a floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel were found alive four days after an explosion tore the ship apart off the coast of Nigeria in the Niger Delta on February 2. Three other crewmembers of the FPSO Trinity Spirit were also found dead nearby the survivors following a search and rescue operation on February 6. Four other crewmembers remain missing.

Representative image: Shutterstock
Representative image: Shutterstock

The Trinity Spirit, which is owned by Shebah Exploration and Production Company Limited (SEPCOL), split into two parts and partially sank following the explosion in the early hours of February 2, leading to fears that all 10 crewmembers who had been onboard at the time were dead. A large fire engulfed the remains of the ship which was eventually extinguished with the help of local onshore communities and Chevron which has a facility near to where the FPSO was situated in the Upkokiti oil field.

In a statement on February 6, SPECOL’s CEO Ikemefuna Okafor confirmed that three of the crew had been discovered alive. During an operation to rescue the three survivors, SEPCOL confirmed that four bodies had also been found on the deck of the remaining wreckage of the Trinity Spirit. SEPCOL said that its “priority remains focused towards establishing the whereabouts, safety, and security of the four crew members still missing."

The Trinity Spirit is reported to have been storing between 50,000-60,000 barrels of crude oil at the time of the explosion, much less than its 2-million-barrel capacity. SEPCOL lost its production licence in 2019 which meant the FPSO was not producing oil when the blast occurred. According to Reuters news agency, the ship had not been maintained for “some time” and had several technical issues having been in operation for over 30 years, 20 years more than its intended lifespan.

The incident is thought to have caused a minor oil spill. Nigeria’s National Oil Spill Detection Response Agency (NOSDRA) said it had undertaken several surveillance flights over the area in the days following the explosion. In a statement, NOSDRA said that while the cause of the incident is yet to be determined, the environment around the FPSO is only slightly covered by emulsified oil.

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