After a fatal explosion onboard a floating storage and offloading (FSO) vessel deployed on US supermajor Chevron’s Benchamas field offshore Thailand, government authorities are on high alert for a potential oil leak.
One crew member was killed when seawater entered the FSO Benchamas 2’s hull due to a malfunctioning seal during routine repair. Chevron revealed to the media that a contractor working aboard the ship during the repair operation tragically perished. At the time of the explosion, there were 29 crewmembers aboard the FSO, and non-essential personnel have since been demobilized.
The safety of all people and the preservation of the environment continue to be our highest priority. Chevron allegedly said in a statement, “We have engaged and alerted the necessary authorities and are working with all stakeholders.”
Chevron has been contacted by Upstream for independent verification and commentary.
The government of the country has charged the Royal Thai Navy and the Department of Transportation with preventing a potential big oil spill from the FSO stationed in the Benchamas field in the Gulf of Thailand.
Admiral Prokgrong Monthatphalin, spokesperson for the Royal Thai Navy, stated that numerous authorities were attempting to collect the corpse of the deceased crewmember, patch the leak, and prevent an oil disaster.
“The state of the vessel is safe, and weather conditions are not impeding rescue attempts. However, the engine room lacks electricity… The Thai Post cited Prokgrong’s comments as saying that the situation’s evaluation is being affected.”
The FSO, which has been working on Chevron’s Benchamas field on Block B8/32 in the Gulf of Thailand around 130 miles offshore Chon Buri province — home to Thailand’s largest naval station — for more than four years, was carrying approximately 400,000 barrels of oil at the time of the incident.
The owner and offshore & maintenance operator of Benchamas 2, Petronas subsidiary MISC, transformed the Aframax tanker supplied by Hyundai Heavy Industries in 1999 into an FSO five years ago. The ABS-classed, double-hulled vessel has a storage capacity of 650,000 barrels of crude oil and is tied to the Benchamas field in 71 meters of water through an exterior turret.
In January, Thai fishermen and local business owners filed lawsuits against Chevron subsidiary Star Petroleum Refining for an oil spill in the Gulf of Thailand in early 2022 that was caused by a leak in a subsea flexible hose used to load tankers at an offshore single point mooring. The lawsuits totaled approximately $150 million (SPM).
“We have a lengthy reputation as a responsible, trustworthy, and safe operator.” SPRC official Robert Joseph Dobrik previously stated, “We assume full responsibility for our activities and are profoundly upset and disturbed by the consequences of this leak.”