The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has sent an investigative team to unravel the circumstances surrounding a recent fire incident at a wellhead offshore Ondo State.
The incident involved a barge belonging to Michharry and Company Nigeria Limited, an offshore and onshore facilities provider for the oil and gas industry.
The officers from the Maritime Safety and Seafarers Standard Department (MSSSD) and Marine Environment Management (MEM) Department of the Agency would conduct both on the spot assessment and detailed analysis of the incident.
NIMASA advised mariners and other maritime stakeholders to steer clear of the areas affected by the fire for their own safety and to aid the investigative and remediation work at the location, Ororo1, in Oil Mining Lease (OML) 95. The site is a Chevron platform sold to local investors.
Preliminary investigation revealed that the barge, JUV Bellaton, a 300 Series SEWOP, owned by Michharry and operated by Guarantee Petroleum, had been working on the offshore oil rig, Grace 1 HWU, when it experienced leakages of gas and oil, which were followed by a fire outbreak at the wellhead location. Though, there was no reported pollution following degenerative status of the platform due to the fire.
All crew were evacuated safely, and firefighters were engaged by the company to try to put out the fire.
NIMASA is working with the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) on the incident investigation, in line with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two agencies.
The Director-General of NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh, said: ‘As the national agency statutorily responsible for ensuring a clean, pollution-free, and friendly marine environment for safe shipping activities, NIMASA has swung into action with our standard procedures to get to the root of this fire incident. A team of officers from the relevant departments of the Agency has been dispatched to the site. We will do a thorough analysis of the situation with a view to unravelling the cause of the fire and preventing future occurrence.
‘As the maritime industry regulator, we would also not hesitate to mete out sanctions where necessary to deter abuse. Certainly, the Nigerian maritime industry and the economy will be the beneficiaries of the outcome of our work on this incident.’
Dr Jamoh advised maritime stakeholders to keep away from the areas affected by the fire for their own safety and to avoid anything that can jeopardise or hinder the ongoing investigation.
‘Additionally, we advise operators in the country’s maritime domain to always report incidents at their locations to NIMASA in good time and shun actions capable of endangering their own safety and operations as well as those of others,’ he added.