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Major Disaster Unfolding as FPSO Explodes Off Nigeria

Photo showing the FPSO Trinity Spirit on fire and sinking off the coast of Nigeria, February 3, 2022.

Major Disaster Unfolding as FPSO Explodes Off Nigeria

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February 3, 2022

By William Clowes (Bloomberg) —

An oil production ship exploded off the coast of Nigeria in what may prove to be the nation’s second major environmental setback in three months.

The Trinity Spirit, able to store about 2 million barrels of oil, blew up early Wednesday, Shebah Exploration & Production Co., which has the vessel on lease, said in a statement. The ship can process up to 22,000 barrels a day, according to the company’s website

While no fatalities have been confirmed, 10 crew were on board the vessel when it exploded, according to Shebah. The company said it is investigating the cause.

The incident puts increasing focus on the oil industry’s environmental legacy in Nigeria. In November, a well operated by independent producer Aiteo Eastern E&P Co. blew, spewing oil and gas into the air and surrounding river for five weeks before it was capped. 

As international companies such as Shell Plc sell their remaining onshore and shallow water assets in the country, activists and local communities fear they will retreat without addressing widespread damage allegedly caused by decades of pumping oil.

It’s unclear how much crude was being held on the Trinity Spirit. Data published by Nigeria’s state-owned energy company show no production from Shebah’s permit in 2020 or 2021, while the country’s oil regulator announced in mid-2019 it was revoking the license.

The vessel was still on fire Thursday morning, Idris Musa, director general of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, said. “From the environment angle, we are putting in efforts to prevent damage beyond the current burning of the contents” of the ship, he said.

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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