The Majestic Rig: Second Time Unlucky and Fatal - Africa’s premier report on the oil, gas and energy landscape.

The Majestic Rig: Second Time Unlucky and Fatal

By Macson Obojemuinmoin, in Warri

The swamp barge Majestic, the drilling facility which capsized in the waters on the way to a drilling location on Tuesday, August 15, 2023, was unlucky for the second time in five years. This time it was fatal.

Majestic was engulfed in fire after it had just finished carrying out a re-completion on one of the wells on Conoil operated Ango field, located in Koluama, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa state, on Saturday, May 26, 2018.

But unlike the recent accident, the fire did not take a life.

Last Tuesday, the rig, owned by Depthwize, had also just completed a well on the Gbetiokun field for the NEPL/Elcrest joint venture and was on its way to another drill site on the Seplat Energy operated Ovhor field, in Delta state, when it capsized, killing one of the 95 crew members and leaving three others unaccounted for.

“Of the other 92 crew members, 10 were admitted to hospital and stayed overnight”, Seplat said in a second press release in 48 hours. “We are pleased to say the 10 crew members have all now been discharged from hospital”.

Seplat’s Chief Executive Officer Roger Brown noted that the company “continues to support Depthwize with the emergency response and rescue efforts continue, with the priority being the search and rescue of the three missing crew members”. He added that “Depthwize has notified Seplat that the single recorded fatality was a British national. The families of the deceased and the 3 missing crew members have been informed by Depthwize”.

Garba Adamu, spokesperson for Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), told Africa Oil+Gas Report that the affected companies  have reported the incident andNUPRC will issue a statement accordingly”.

The Fire Last Time

The fire that engulfed the Majestic in 2018 burnt down significant parts of the rig, but did not affect the well. Major Abdullahi Ibrahim, spokesman of the Operation Delta Safe (ODS), an arm of the Joint Military Task Force in the Niger Delta, was quoted saying at the time that all personnel on board the rig were successfully evacuated.

The fire on the Majestic happened two years after an accident on an ExxonMobil pipeline which led to some curtailment in Depthwize’s operational activity. In mid May 2016, the Monarch another Depthwize owned rig, impacted the pipeline which pumped hydrocarbon fluids from Oso condensate and Usari oil fields to the ExxonMobil terminal at Qua Iboe. The damage on the pipeline was severe enough to cause a halt to a portion of ExxonMobil’s entire crude oil production. Depthwize’s insurance paid for the repairs on the pipeline, as it did to fix the burnt rig later.




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