FSO Benchamas 2; Source: MISC Berhad

After worker dies in FSO incident off Thailand, navy comes to the rescue to stave off oil spill

Following an incident during routine maintenance, which damaged a floating storage and offloading (FSO) unit operated by a Thai subsidiary of Chevron, Thailand has ordered its navy to join the efforts being undertaken to prevent an oil spill from the vessel.

FSO Benchamas 2; Source: MISC Berhad

The FSO Bechamas 2, which is carrying 400,000 barrels of crude oil, suffered from water ingress earlier this week, as water seeped into the vessel’s hull, following an incident during maintenance of underwater valves when a seal malfunctioned. One worker lost his life in this offshore incident, which occurred about 207 km off Sattahip in Chon Buri province.

Admiral Prokgrong Monthatphalin, a spokesperson for the Royal Thai Navy (RTN), revealed that several agencies had joined forces to recover the body of the dead crewmember, fix the leak and prevent an oil spill, adding: “The vessel’s condition is still safe and wind and wave conditions do not impede operations. However, due to the seawater flooding the engine room, there was no electricity inside the ship and the crude oil preheating system was unavailable. This affects the estimation of the leakage situation.”

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As part of preparations to deal with the situation in case of an oil leak, the Navy spokesman said that a meeting was held on 16 March 2023 to discuss the plan to prevent and eliminate water pollution due to oil. The efforts undertaken by various agencies are in compliance with the Prime Minister’s directive for actions not to affect the well-being of fellow citizens and the marine environment.

Chevron also confirmed that all non-essential personnel were being removed from the vessel, explaining: “The safety of all personnel and the protection of the environment remain our top priorities. We have engaged and notified the relevant authorities and are working with all stakeholders.”

The FSO Benchamas 2, owned by Malaysian shipping company MISC Berhad, has a storage capacity of 650,000 barrels and operates at the Benchamas field in Block B8/32 in the Gulf of Thailand. Originally built in 1998 as an Aframax tanker, the vessel was converted in 2018.