One more body has been recovered after the explosion of an oil storage vessel off the Nigerian coast over two weeks ago, bringing the death toll to four.
The Trinity Spirit, a Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) facility operated by Shebah Exploration & Production Company Ltd (SEPCOL), exploded and was engulfed in flames on February 2 with 10 crew on board.
The vessel had a processing capacity of 22,000 barrels of oil a day and could store two million barrels, according to SEPCOL.
The Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, said it was carrying between 50,000 and 60,000 barrels of oil at the time of explosion, raising concerns of environmental disaster.
The site of the explosion at the Ukpokiti oil terminal is closer to Delta State.
One body was found on February 6, and two more a day after. Three survivors were found.
The director-general National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Musa Idris, told PREMIUM TIMES one more body was found on Wednesday, about two weeks after the incident.
He said the agency was continuing with its monitoring of the site, conducting aerial surveys and diving to monitor for any oil spill.
“Our people are still there to know whether oil will come out or not. They were supposed to do diving yesterday, because yesterday morning one more body was recovered,” he said.
The explosion is the second major accident in the oil industry in the last three months. It follows the spill that occurred in Nembe, Bayelsa State, in December 2021, at an oil wellhead operated by Aiteo.
Eric Omare, a former president of the Ijaw Youth Council, said the government has to step up its regulation of the industry to prevent further loss of lives and destruction of the environment.
“This is just a tip of the iceberg,” he said. “As the oil and gas industry matures, and the relevant regulatory agencies don’t do what they are supposed to do, there will be more of such disasters. I think that they need to wake up in the interest of the environment and the lives of the people of the region.”
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