Maritime: NIMASA Rescues Seplat Petroleum Sinking Rig Operating Illegally On Nigerian Waters

By Stephen Ubanna

Between 2016 and now, Seplat Petroleum Development Company, one of the companies listed in the Nigeria and the United Kingdom, UK, stock Exchange market and which produces about 30% of the country’s gas , was said to have been using  Majestic rig, chartered from  Depthwize Nigeria Limited in Its swamp drilling operations on Nigerian waters.

IA Statement by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety agency, NIMASA, under the close watch of Bashir Jamoh, OFR, had confirmed that the company had been operating the rig without approvals from the relevant Authorities.  

The company ought to have obtained the necessary approvals from the Downstream and Midstream Regulatory, Authority, DMRA, which provides ‘’the legal, governance, regulatory and fiscal framework for the Nigerian Petroleum Industry and Host Communities,  going by the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, passed by the National Assembly in August, 2021, and signed in Law by former President Muhammadu Buhari The Authority is also responsible for ‘’the regulation of the Midstream and downstream operations in the nation’s oil industry which includes technical, operational and commercial activities’’.

Seplat Petroleum Sinking Rig Operating Illegally On Nigeria Waters Rescued By NIMASA

The Seplat Petroleum rig, going by a statement by NIMASA had been using the ill-fated rig which belongs to  Depthwize Nigeria Limited to carry out  the illegal operations on Nigeria waters over the years but  ran into murky waters at the Ovhor area of Warri in Delta state.  

 Determined to get to the root of the cause of the capsized rig, that was said to have caused spill in the area where it had occurred may have informed why NIMASA, which has a mandate ‘’to ensure safe shipping   and cleaner oceans’’, sent a Search and Rescue team, including marine officers to the scene of the incident.

 The Value News learnt that when Jamoh, the NIMASA, Director General was alerted about the sinking rig, he quickly initiated contact with the Clean Nigeria Associate, CAN, a Conglomerate of all International Oil Companies, IOCs, responsible for the cleaning of Tier spill, to establish the level of spillage at the scene of the incident.

There is no gain saying the fact that rig explosions, fires and capsizing /sinking and loss of workers, including loss of marine lives were said to have been catastrophic in forms of offshore and gas drilling disasters in the Niger Delta region in recorded history. Offshore technology lists some of the leading causes of drilling rig disasters, an energy maritime analyst had said.  

   Investigations by the maritime regulatory agency on the ABS Classed Inland and Water Drilling 232 feet-long Majstic  rig that was said to have collapsed where it has been towed from N04,30:34/E0054:57 enroute Ovhor 21, had revealed that the ill-fated rig was Panama flagged.

 Osagie Edward, an Assistant Director, and NIMASA, spokesperson had said that the agency are in Communication with officials of Seplat Pte trolem , Charterers  of the ill-fated Majestic rig, who are expected  to officially  report the incidence  within 24 hours  in line with the provisions  of the Merchant  Shipping Act 2007.

Roger Brown, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of Seplat, who had confirmed the il-fated swamp Majestic rig incident, had said that one person died in the process and three others missing as the rig collapsed collapsed close to  Ovhor  in Delta state, on Tuesday, August 15, 2013 .

 The Seplat CEO, may have confirmed NIMASA earlier statement that it had contracted the rig, which he had said was in transit   to its planned drilling location at Ovhor in Delta state before the incident occurred.

Notwithstanding, that the ill-fated rig had claimed one life and three others are still missing, Brown, the Seplat boss, had revealed that 92 persons, who were among the  95 member Crew of the rig are safe. He had told the industry operators that ‘’a detailed investigation will be carried out to ascertain ‘’the cause of the accident’’.  He had recalled that the company emergency response and rescue efforts working alongside the rig owner, Depthwize, Nigeria Limited and the relevant Authorities including NIMASA officials have been motivated and are on site.

He had assure the industry operators, that there was no cause for alarm a the company will continue ‘’to be safety conscious in its operations.

Given that Seplat Petroleum have been using the ill-fated rig in its operations in the Niger Delta between 2016 and now with out approvals from the Authorities as reported by NIMASA, clearly shows that the company has a case to answer. 

T Not that this is not the first time of such an unfortunate incident in on Nigeria waters. On February, 2022,  an aging  tanker that was operating  as a floating oil  production and storage vessel, FPSO, had exploded   and caught fire  before sinking  off the coast  of Nigeria.  Ten people working aboard the vessel were said to have been reported missing till date. The Trinity Spirit, which was said to be 274,774 dwt and measured 1,105 feet was said to have been built in 1976.

Shebah Exploration and Production company Limited, SEPCOL, which was the operator at the Nigeria oil field   had reported that an offshore company had purchased the FPSO Trinity Spirit from Conoco Philips and released the vessel to SEPCOL, on a bareboat basis.  It was said to have served as the primary production facility for OML 108 in the Nigeria’s offshore Ukpkiti field located in Delta state.

NIMASA, and the International Maritime Organisation, IMO,   were said to have partnered  through the instrumentality of  the International Oil Pollution  Compensation , IOPC,  funds to compensate the host  communities  for the environment  oil spill caused by the exploded vessel, Trinity spirit, in  Delta state..      

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