Seven crew members on board an oil vessel that exploded in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region last Wednesday are still missing after three were found, the company said on Sunday.
Ikemefuna Okafor, the executive officer of Shebah Exploration & Production Company Ltd added that “one dead body was discovered in the vicinity”, but it was not immediately clear if it was of a crew member.
Efforts to locate the remaining crew members, “clean up and limit damage to the environment, and establish the cause of the explosion” were ongoing, he added.
Following the incident, the Nigerian government has announced that it is considering the possibility of a merger with the United States to create a new company to take over the management of the oil tanker, the company said.
FPSOs are floating units that produce and store oil or natural gas from offshore platforms.
Ten crew members were on board at the time of the incident.
Okafor said, "Our joint efforts are aimed at establishing the location, safety and security of the seven crew members still missing, cleaning up and limiting environmental damage and establishing the cause of the explosion".
An eyewitness report indicates that remains of the Trinity Spirit, broke into two and partially submerged, but said there was no evidence of spilt crude.
Environmental activists have expressed concern about the potential impact.
“There will definitely be a spill,” said Mike Karikpo, of the local NGO Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria.
According to Sepcol, the Trinity Spirit had a processing capacity of 22,000 barrels per day and a storage capacity of two million barrels.
The number of barrels stored in the vessel at the time of the explosion is still unknown, but the incident has raised fears of a major oil spill.
However, Idris Musa, director of Nigeria's Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (Nosdra), told AFP on Sunday that there was "no oil spill incident at the moment, only small amounts of oil".
Oil spills are common in Nigeria but usually affect the Niger River and its tributaries, and more rarely the sea.