Two sources and an environmental group stated on Friday that an oil vessel used for storage that exploded off the coast of Nigeria this week had not been maintained in a long time and had mechanical concerns, as its wreckage floated in the sea after the fire was put out.
According to witnesses, the ten crew members who were on board at the time of the explosion early Wednesday are still missing, with fears that they were caught in the flames.
The burnt-out wreckage of the Trinity Spirit floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) vessel, which broke in two and was partially submerged, were seen by a witness, although there was no trace of oil leaked.
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The cause of the fire was not immediately known, but the vessel’s owner, Shebah Exploration & Production Company Ltd, said on Thursday that it had received assistance from neighboring villages and Chevron Corp, which has a plant nearby.
The vessel, which had been in operation for more than 30 years and had outlived its 20-year lifespan, should have been retired, according to Nnimmo Bassey of the Health of Mother Foundation, which records oil spills in Nigeria.
“Most, if not all of the big trading companies stopped using it several years ago,” the source told.
Officials said a team of government investigators who were scheduled to visit the scene of the incident on Friday would now travel on Saturday.
High tide surges, according to Eric Omare, executive director of the Niger Delta Good Governance and Environmental Initiative, could have swept away the oil, and the full damage will be felt soon.