Shell Oil Spill off Nigeria – Questions….

We’ve got a few questions for you savvy engineers out there about Shell’s spill during loading at their FPSO in the Bonga field off Nigeria.  Based on the size of the oil slick on satellite images yesterday, and photos of parts of the slick released by Shell along with statements made on their website (scroll down to read the comments), we think that the spill may be near the high end of Shell’s public estimate of up to 1.7 million gallons (40,000 barrels). 

According to Shell, this spill occurred during the transfer of oil from the FPSO to a tanker.  Oil from the FPSO was being pumped into the tanker. Or as it turns out, was being pumped into the water. So here are the questions: 

  1. How long does it take the workers onboard to notice that, hey Houston, we’ve got a problem here?
  2. How long does it take to shut off that pump? 
  3. How long would it take to pump 1.7 million gallons of oil into the water? 

Please let us know by commenting on this post if you have any expertise in this area and can help shed some light on how a spill of this size could have occurred during the routine transfer of oil from an FPSO to a tanker.

Nigerian authorities are predicting that oil will begin to come ashore this afternoon.