FSO Off Thailand Taking on Water After Fatal Explosion

FSO damaged by explosion
Damaged FSO down at the stern (Royal Thai Navy)

Published Mar 16, 2023 12:33 PM by The Maritime Executive

The government of Thailand has ordered the Royal Thai Navy and the Department of Transportation to assist to prevent a potentially significant oil spill from a damaged FSO operated by Chevron 129 miles off the coast of the country. The vessel, the Benchamas 2, was rocked by an explosion during routine maintenance and is taking on water at the stern.

Chevron issued a statement confirming that one crewmember, a contractor, working aboard the vessel during the maintenance operation was killed. According to reports, they were working on repairs removing an underwater value at the time of the explosion. The government is referring to it as a seawater suction pipe that is now leaking and causing the engine room of the FSO to flood.

The flooding has left the Benchamas 2 without electrical power. The Royal Thai Navy noted that the crude oil heating system is not working due to the lack of power raising the potential for an oil leak. Reports said that there are currently 400,000 barrels of oil stored aboard the FSO.

There were 29 crewmembers working aboard the vessel at the time of the accident. Chevron reports that non-essential personnel were removed from the vessel. The government reports said that the remaining crew was in no immediate danger and were working with the Navy to stabilize the situation. The navy noted that weather has not been an issue reporting that the wind and waves are not an obstacle to their operation.

The Navy was expected to reach the vessel early today. They are planning for three scenarios, including successfully sealing the leaking pipe or more water continuing to enter the vessel. The third scenario they are preparing for is a potential oil spill from the FSO. Resources are being positioned with reports that the Prime Minister of Thailand is monitoring the situation and has consulted with senior officials of the Navy and government.

The Benchamas 2 went into operation in the field located in the Gulf of Thailand in 2018. She was converted from a 1998-built Aframax tanker Bunga Kelena 5 owned by MISC Berhad. The conversion work was carried out at a shipyard in Malaysia with reports saying that the vessel was designed to operate for 12 years without drydocking. The 104,500 dwt vessel was designed to provide a maximum storage capacity of 650,000 barrels.