More facts have emerged on how independent oil producer, Seplat Energy Plc and Depthwize Nigeria Limited, charterer and owner of the ill-fated Majestic oil rig respectfully, wilfully failed to comply with a Marine Notice issued by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) on 30th December 2022.
The Majestic oil rig, owned by Depthwize Nigeria Limited and chartered by Seplat Energy Plc, capsized in the early morning of Tuesday August 15, 2023.
The independent oil producer had in a statement last week confirmed the death of one person, the missing of three crew members and the rescue of 92 others after the rig capsized on its way to its drilling location at Ovhor in Warri, Delta State.
Shortly after the incidence, NIMASA issued a statement confirming that the ill-fated Panama-flagged oil rig had been operating in Nigeria since 2016 without requisite approvals from the agency.
Findings by SHIPS & PORTS revealed that in line with the Merchant Shipping Act 2007 and with its mandates of administrating and regulating shipping licenses, as well as performing port and flag state duties, NIMASA issued a Marine Notice with reference number MN12/22/SN01 on 30th December 2022 to the owners and operators of all Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO), Floating Storage and Offloading (FSO), Floating Storage Units (FSU) and others operating in Nigerian waters to ensure they were flagged and classed. Such units were also required to be registered with NIMASA and obtain annual permits from the agency before operating in the nation’s waters.
“All life extension projects for all FPSOs/FSOs/FSUs etc (Nigerian and foreign flagged) shall be done in line with the agency’s requirements and only after approval has been granted by the agency,” the Marine Notice stated.
The Marine Notice was issued by the agency after a fatal incident involving another FPSO named Trinity Spirit, which caught fire and exploded at Ukpokiti oil terminal, near Delta State, on February 2, 2022. The incident claimed four lives.
However, findings by SHIPS & PORTS further revealed that since the Marine Notice was issued, the owner and charterer of the Majestic oil rig, which has operated in Nigeria since 2016, refused to comply with the NIMASA directive.
A NIMASA senior official, who did not want her identity disclosed because she had not been authorised to speak on the matter, said the agency will take appropriate action against the owners and operators of the rigs that fail to comply with the Marine Notice.
“We can no longer condone the reckless act of disregard for Nigeria’s laws by oil producing companies and their contractors. We will come out with appropriate sanctions against owners of such rigs sooner than later,” the official said.
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