A massive blaze has been extinguished following the explosion of an oil production vessel off the coast of Nigeria.
The vessel, which has the capacity for two million barrels of oil, burst into flames on Wednesday and belched thick, black smoke before it sank. The fate of the ten crew onboard remains unclear.
The vessel, which had been operating in the oil-rich Niger Delta region, is owned by Shebah Exploration & Production Company Ltd (SEPCOL).
SEPCOL is “prioritizing investigations with respect to their safety and security” and has notified all relevant authorities about the development, Ikemefuna Okafor, CEO of the oil company, told AP.
The vessel has the ability to process up to 22,000 barrels of oil per day, according to Fleetmon.
Nigerian government regulators have launched a “full-scale” probe into the explosion to determine how much oil the vessel was carrying, and who it belongs to.
An industry source told Reuters that the vessel had about 50,000 barrels in storage.
The disaster once again turns the spotlight on the actions of the fossil fuel industry in Nigeria.
The country is now potentially facing its second environmental disaster in three months after a vast oil spill from a disused wellhead spewed the equivalent of 20,000 barrels a day into waterways in the town of Nembe for weeks.
The Nigerian government described that spill as being “like Hiroshima” after it devastated marine life, mangroves and water resources.
Diane Hoskins, from the ocean conservation nonprofit Oceana, said in a statement: “The explosion of Trinity Spirit, an offshore production vessel, is horrifying for the crew on board and tragic for the local environment.
“No offshore oil and gas operator can guarantee this won’t happen. Despite repeated promises that spill disasters are rare, industry proves again and again that where they drill, they spill. This is the reality of the oil and gas industry and it’s time to end drilling for oil in our oceans.”