An oil tanker capable of carrying up to two million barrels of oil a day has exploded off the coast of Nigeria.
Dramatic video shows the immense ship ablaze with thick black smoke pouring into the sky as it appears to be sinking into the sea.
None of the ship’s 10 crew members on board at the time of the explosion have been accounted for, according to the oil firm which owns the ship.
Reports claim the Trinity Spirit exploded on Thursday morning at the Ukpokiti oil field close to the River Niger delta near the Escravos terminal in Nigeria.
The cause of the explosion is still being investigated, according to Ikemefuna Okafor, chief executive of Shebah Exploration & Production Company Ltd (SEPCOL).
“At this time there are no reported fatalities, but we can confirm that there were 10 crewmen on board the vessel prior to the incident and we are prioritizing investigations with respect to their safety and security,” he said.
He added that attempts to contain the situation were being made with help from local communities and oil giant Chevron, which has a nearby facility.
Local fishermen have also helped to try and control the spill.
“We have duly notified all relevant authorities and we appeal to the members of the public to stay away from the area while our Crisis Management Team continues to monitor the situation and update all stakeholders with new information as the investigation evolves.”
Trinity Spirit is a floating production storage and offloading unit (FPSO), which is used by the offshore oil and gas industry for producing and processing, as well as storing oil.
It can process up to 22,000 barrels of oil a day, according to SEPCOL’s website.
At the time of the explosion, it had about 50,000 barrels in storage and was not pumping crude from the Ukpokiti oilfield, according to an industry source active in Nigeria’s oil sector.
SEPCOL had its license to produce oil revoked in 2019 by Nigeria’s upstream regulator and is currently in receivership, a form of bankruptcy protection.
This is Nigeria’s second major environmental disaster in just three months, after a huge oil spill from a disused, capped well released 20,000 barrels of oil a day for a month in Nembe, Bayelsa state.
The November spill’s fallout was described as being “like Hiroshima” by the Nigerian government, with leaking oil killing marine life and damaging mangroves and waterways.
This year has already seen three major oil spills around the world, after similar disasters in Ecuador, Peru, and Thailand.
Nigeria is the 15th biggest oil-producing country in the world, producing more than 1.9m barrels a day, according to 2016 figures.
The country’s deadliest-ever oil explosion took place in 1998 when more than 1,000 people died as a leaking oil pipeline they were gathering fuel from exploded in the town of Jesse.
In 2010, one of the worst oil spills in modern history took place in the Gulf of Mexico when BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded.
The rig, which was pumping 10s of thousands of barrels of oil a day when it blew up, took 87 days to be plugged.
In that time, some four million barrels of crude had poured into the sea causing an environmental disaster.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced here with permission.