About 3,000 barrels of crude oil were lost to the Nov. 15 oil spill from the offshore Egina Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel of TotalEnergies.
The FPSO located 130 kilometres off the Atlantic coastline from Port Harcourt in Rivers State has capacity to produce 200,000 barrels of crude daily and can store 2.3 million barrels on board.
Director-General of the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Mr Idris Musa, disclosed on Sunday, November 26, 2023, that the clean-up of the spill was still on-going.
He added that NOSDRA and TotalEnergies did not spare any effort in tackling the pollution to minimise its impact on the environment, a development that kept the spilled crude from reaching the coastline.
“The spill has not hit the coastline because of the effectiveness of the spills contingency plan we deployed,’’ he said.
Musa explained that NOSDRA deployed high-level personnel and activated the National Oil Spills Contingency Plan to contain the spill.
“The spill was not a minor one; it was the response strategy put in place that resulted to limited impact and we have been tracing and tracking the oil slick and supervising response efforts.
“NOSDRA deployed personnel led by a director to the site and we have remained on the spill site as well as granting the requisite approvals to hasten the response,’’ he said.
Musa explained that the TotalEnergies took steps that made the response swift and effective, adding that other oil companies assisted in the response.
He stressed that spills clean-up required collaborative response of oil industry stakeholders, which, in this case, deployed aircraft, and at least five vessels in the application of 15,000 litres of liquids to clean the waters.
NOSDRA said that it deployed an aircraft and five vessels to contain the oil leakage from Egina facility operated by TotalEnergies.
According to the spills agency, the response aircraft and vessels were used to apply dispersants on the oil leak that occurred on Nov. 15, a development that kept the spill from impacting the shoreline.
The dispersants are chemicals used in mopping up crude oil spills which break down oil molecules.
Musa explained that the agency promptly deployed its personnel to the spill site which is a Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel in the Atlantic Ocean, located about 130 kilometres off Rivers/Akwa Ibom coastline.
According to him, the spill was caused by an operational mishap due to an export hose failure.
He explained that the prompt response of the operator resulted in identification and stoppage of the leak, thereby containing the spilled crude from further spreading and damaging the environment.
Musa said: ‘’The Agency received the report of a crude oil spill incident from TotalEnergies Upstream Nigeria PLC which occurred from the company’s Egina Floating Production Storage and Offload (FP$O) facility.
“The spill is as a result of export hose snap on Nov. 15 at 06:27 hrs; the facility is located deep offshore at a distance of 130km from the shoreline, and ultra deep-water depth of 1150 m.
‘’The report of the incident complies with extant laws and regulations.’’
According to Musa, the operator of the FPSO immediately triggered all the required resources and commenced response activities under the effective guidance and supervision of the agency.
The director-general noted that since the incident was reported, the response team, comprising staff of the agency and others, carried out aerial surveillance twice daily to track the progress of response activities.
He said that to complement the response capabilities of the owner of the facility, other oil companies were notified to provide response support, technical support remotely in determining the extent of the spread.
Musa explained that additional resources include response equipment, personnel, and dispersants from Clean Nigeria Associates (CNA) were put to use.
“Following a request from TotalEnergies, we facilitated entry into Nigeria, a Borba dispersant application aircraft and six expatriates from Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL) Southampton, UK, to hasten response activities.
“The support results from the approval from relevant government agencies as contained in the Nation & Oil Spill Contingency Plan (NOSCP) have been remarkable.’’
On the spill response operations, Musa said that TotalEnergies and the agency’s team departed to the site on Nov. 18, with 15,000 litres of dispersant COREXIT 9500 for spraying.
He explained that the aircraft did three runs, spraying 10,500 litres of the dispersant on the affected areas while five vessels continued with mechanical agitation to breakdown the slick and carry out in-vessel spraying of dispersant.
Musa said that representatives from Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPPC) joined the response team from Lagos on Nov. 21.
According to him, on Nov. 22, 2023, the OSRL Aircraft and dispersants sprayer were demobilised having concluded on the window of opportunity for such exercise.
Musa noted that the company’s vessels were following up movement of the slick and booms which had been put in place to contain and recover oil where feasible.
He said that shoreline surveillance and baseline mapping were carried out starting from Calabar River to Ikot Abasi in Akwa Ibom.
“It showed that the entire shoreline surveyed was clean and free from oil impact.
“Tracking and mapping of the emulsified oil as well as shoreline surveillance continued on Saturday, Nov. 25.
“NOSDRA is continuing with the response and monitoring activities of the event,” Musa assured.
By Nathan Nwakamma