The Shebah Exploration and Production Company Ltd (SEPCOL) says new information on the recent fire on its vessel indicated that unauthorised persons were on site at the time of the incident.
The company disclosed this on Sunday in a statement issued by Ikemefuna Okafor, its chief executive officer.
The floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel named ‘Trinity Spirit’ exploded on February 2, with 10 crew members said to be on board.
As of February 7, three crew members had been found dead, while three others were rescued.
Giving an update on the fire incident, Okafor said the company is awaiting forensic identification of five bodies recovered.
“Since the 3rd of February, 2022, when the fire was contained, the company has been working relentlessly with relevant authorities, agencies, experts, and the communities focused on search and rescue of the 10 crew members. We have also prioritised police investigations and environmental damage assessment,” the statement reads.
“We have kept up the search and rescue efforts, with the collaboration of the Police, NUPRC, NIMASA, NOSDRA, Marine Police, the communities, and local fishermen. The community leaders and traditional rulers have also been of great support.
“We have been in regular contact with the three survivors and their family members and ensured that all three received appropriate medical care in hospital. They have all been discharged from the hospital and the company has continuously offered support with any post-trauma care that may be required.
“So far, a total of five bodies have been found on and around the FPSO. The bodies have been handed over to the police for due process to establish the identities of the deceased persons. A forensic pathologist and a coroner have been appointed to assist with the autopsy and identification processes.
“The company has also paid condolence visits to the next-of-kin and family members of all persons still missing. We have kept the families abreast of the developments and apprised them of the relevant next steps in the investigation processes.
“Furthermore, the company has provided interim financial support to the immediate families and dependents of all 10 persons on board.
“Recently, we have found new information that persons who were not authorised nor scheduled to be on duty on the FPSO were in fact on the vessel at the time of the incident. This is a significant development.”
Okafor, however, advised members of the public to stay away from the vessel, adding that the investigation is ongoing.
“We will continue to monitor developments in the investigations and update all stakeholders with new information accordingly,” he added.
“In the interest of public safety and the investigation process, we appeal to members of the public to stay away from the vessel, and not attempt to scavenge for parts and equipment from the vessel.”