Enforcement of safety standards tapped as solution to oil vessel explosion

ENFORCEMENT of safer operational standards has been identified as a key way of averting oil vessel explosions in Nigeria.

Following the recent explosion of an oil vessel in Nigeria’s Niger Delta, informed analysts say the situation is not unconnected with poor operational safety standards of the vessels.

Nigeria’s media outlets was last week awash with news of explosion of an oil vessel capable of carrying up to two million barrels of oil.

According to reports, the Trinity Spirit exploded at Ukpokiti field, off Nigeria’s coast, near the Escravos terminal.

The vessel is an FSPO, a floating production storage and offloading unit, owned by Shebah Exploration and Production Company Ltd. (Sepcol)

These ships are used by the offshore oil and gas industry for the production, processing and storage of oil and serve a similar function to larger oil rigs.

With the explosion of the oil production vessel, industry analysts have called to question the level of compliance and enforcement of safety standards in vessels.

“This is where enforcement of safety operational standards come in and they are key in averting this kind of loss, You could see the loss,” Former Chairman of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Joe Nwakwue told The ICIR.

He stressed the importance of safety enforcements on the operations of oil and gas infrastructure.

Former Group Executive Director for Refineries and Petrol Chemicals at NNPC Afolabi Oladele, speaking on the development with Arise TV, expressed worry on how Nigeria dealt with infrastructure decay in vessels.

He said:”The FPSO was built 46 years ago and I don’t know what the maintenance culture has been.

“A 46-year-old vessel that is not subject to constant check could face lots of risks,” he emphasised.

He further called into question the quality of personnel entrusted with such maintenance.

“I point my fingers on the age of the facilities and fingers also on the quality of the training that we have given to generations that have succeeded us in doing what is required.

“In our time, we were exposed to the kind of training that made us be at par with oil facility managers in Europe and America. Currently, I don’t know what is obtainable.”

Meanwhile, the management of Shebah Exploration & Production Company Ltd (SEPCOL) has announced the rescue of three out of the 10 crew members on board  offshore facility, FPSO Trinity Spirit, when it was engulfed in fire in the early hours of Wednesday following an explosion.

The management also said that a dead body was recovered from the vicinity, although the identity was yet to be established.

SEPCOL gave the update in a statement signed by its Chief Executive Officer Ikemefuna Okafor and made available to newsmen on Sunday.

The statement read: “The Management of Shebah Exploration & Production Company Ltd (SEPCOL) in RECIEVERSHIP, hereby provide further update on the missing crew members following the unfortunate explosion and subsequent fire that engulfed the FPSO Trinity Spirit at the Ukpokiti Terminal in the early hours of Wednesday, 2nd of February 2022.

    “We can confirm that three (3) 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.

    “As earlier confirmed, the fire burnt out completely as of Thursday afternoon, 3rd Feb. 2022, thus enabling closer inspection of the vessel.

    “A Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) with the relevant authorities, stakeholders, and expert organisations 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 7 (seven) crew members still missing, clean up and limit damage to the environment, and establish the cause of the explosion.”

    Harrison Edeh is a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, always determined to drive advocacy for good governance through holding public officials and businesses accountable.

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