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Five Days After, Three Crewmen in SEPCOL’s FPSO Explosion Found Alive


Five days after a Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) facility belonging to Shebah Exploration and Production Company Limited (SEPCOL) exploded in Warri, the company yesterday announced that three crew members aboard the ship had been found alive.

A statement by the company signed by its Chief Executive Officer, Ikemefuna Okafor, indicated that one unidentified body was also noticed floating around the vessel, Trinity Spirit, located at Ukpokiti field (OML 108).

The statement said, “We can confirm that three crew members have been found alive in the community and our priority is to ensure that they receive the appropriate medical attention they need.

“Furthermore, in the early hours of Sunday, 6th February 2022, one dead body was discovered in the vicinity of the FPSO. The identity of the dead body is yet to be ascertained.”

An earlier update provided on Saturday by the company had confirmed that the fire had been extinguished, while the search for whereabouts of the crew on board was ongoing.

The incident on the FPSO, with a capacity to process up to 22,000 barrels of oil per day, inject up to 40,000 barrels of water per day and store two million barrels of oil, took place around Excravos, Warri South-west, Delta State.

Trinity Spirit is the primary production facility for OML 108, which covers 750 square km (290 square miles) of water off the Niger Delta, ranging from a depth of 30 metres to 213 metres, according to SEPCOL’s website.

THISDAY checks showed that the huge facility was built in 1976 (46 years ago), with a carrying capacity of 274774 Dead Weight Tonnage (DWT). SEPCOL, now in receivership, in 2004 acquired all 40 per cent of ConocoPhillips equity interest in OML 108 owned by a combination of Nigerian and overseas corporate entities, which include Abbeycourt Trading Company Limited (ATCO), Abbeycourt Petroleum Company Limited, and Allenne Limited.

The FPSO serves as the primary production facility for OML 108 and it is also a government approved terminal for lifting operations for all the facility’s production.

At the time the massive fire erupted on-board the vessel, it was learnt that about 10 persons were within the facility, but with three crew members found, at least seven of the persons on board were yet to be accounted for on Sunday. In the statement, SEPCOL reiterated that the fire burnt out completely as of last Thursday, thus enabling closer inspection of the vessel.

A Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) with the relevant authorities, stakeholders, and expert organisations, it said, took place on Saturday, 5th February 2022.

“The focus of our joint efforts is to prioritise investigations towards establishing the whereabouts, safety, and security of the seven crew members still missing, clean up and limit damage to the environment, and establish the cause of the explosion,” the statement added.

The company appreciated the assistance provided by the Clean Nigeria Associates, the Chevron team, other stakeholders and people in the community, particularly the fishermen, who it said had been of immense help since the incident occurred.

Furthermore, the management of SEPCOL urged members of the public to continue to keep away from the area while its crisis management team monitored developments in the investigations and updated stakeholders with new information accordingly.

Although the details were yet to be made public, The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) in collaboration with other relevant stakeholders had also embarked on a Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) to the facility.

NUPRC said, “The commission will further deploy its incident management strategy while also ensuring that the removal of the FPSO is carried out professionally to prevent an escalation of the incident.
“The commission will continue to ensure that all safety and environmental measures are strictly adhered to in the management of the incident.”

FPSO serves as the primary production facility of for OML 108 and it is also a government approved terminal for lifting operations for all the asset’s production.

Meanwhile, Reuters quoted the Minister of State, Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, as saying at the weekend that the oil storage vessel was holding around 50,000 to 60,000 barrels of crude oil at the time of the incident. Ikeazor said the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) had called the oil industry operators and the Clean Nigeria Associates, a cooperative responding to oil spill incidents, for support.

It also quoted Chairman of the host fishing community, Ikusemuya Igbekele, as disclosing that two bodies were seen lying dead in front of the vessel, while three crew members jumped into the sea with life jackets and had been taken to the hospital.

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