The federal government has launched an investigation to determine the immediate cause of a fire oubreak at the Ukpokiti Oil Field owned by Floating Production Storage and Offtake of Shebah Exploration and Production Company Limited (SEPCOL) in Delta State.
This is even as a yet-to-be-identified body was discovered close to the offshore facility in the early hours of Sunday, while seven others remained missing.
Ten crew members were said to be onboard the facility when the incident occurred last week.
SEPCOL’s Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel named ‘Trinity Spirit’ was in the early hours of Wednesday, February 2, engulfed in a fire while carrying an estimated 50-60 000 barrels of oil.
Though the fire was said to be extinguished on Thursday, February 3, the vessel initially loaded 200 000 000 barrels of oil and had discharged approximately 120,000 barrels before the incident.
Minister of State for the Environment, Chief Sharon Ikeazor, who confirmed that the fire was totally extinguished, stated that the National Oil Spill Detection Response Agency (NOSDRA) commenced an overflight at the oil field today (Sunday) that will last till tomorrow (Monday).
She said that the overflight operation would be sustained in the weeks ahead, until the remnants of oil in the FPSO is completely evacuated, while putting in place measures to forestall further reoccurence.
A statement made available to newsmen in Abuja by the Director of Press, Federal Ministry of Environment, Saghir el Mohammed revealed that the Director–General of NOSDRA, Mr Joe Musa said that a joint investigation was conducted at the scene of the incident on Saturday.
She added that NOSDRA had an overflight on the incident last Friday to ascertain the condition of the surroundings after extinguishing the fire.
The minister said, “A joint investigation visit to the incident area, as well as the FPSO, was undertaken on Saturday by NOSDRA, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the Ondo State Ministry of Environment, representatives of communities proximate to the area and staff of Shebah Exploration and Production Company Limited.”
“While the cause of the fire incident is yet to be fully determined, the environment around the FPSO is only slightly covered by sheen and emulsified oil. NOSDRA will continue to give updates on this incident after each aerial surveillance scheduled for today and Monday,” Ikeazor concluded.
However, the management of SEPCOL today confirmed that three crew members were found alive in the community.
The Chief Executive Officer of SEPCOL, Ikemefuna Okafor in a statement on Sunday disclosed that the surviving crew members would receive appropriate medical attention.
“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 while seven others remained missing.” Okafor added.
— Chika Okeke is a journalist with MOC and the Publisher/ Editor of Bennyokeke.blogspot.com, an online news platform.
She joined the services of LEADERSHIP Media Group in 2008 as a Reporter where she rose through the ranks as a Senior Reporter to Deputy Editor Daily, Deputy Editor, LEADERSHIP Sunday and Deputy Editor, LEADERSHIP Friday.
During her sojourn in LEADERSHIP Media Group, she had covered the activities of FCT Area Councils, Ministries of Tourism and National Orientation, Works & Housing and Environment.
With over one decade in journalism, she was able to explore various reporting and writing techniques such as feature writing, editing, investigation and editing, with over over 300 publications to her credit.
She has covered workshops and conferences, both in Nigeria and abroad.
She is currently the Treasurer, Environment Media Correspondents Association of Nigeria (EMCAN) and a member of Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ).