Oil spill fears off Thailand as explosion kills one on FSO Benchamas

Thai authorities ordered their navy to assist in preventing an oil leak from a damaged floating storage and offloading (FSO) vessel carrying 400,000 barrels of crude in the Gulf of Thailand.

The 1999-built
Benchamas 2, owned by Malaysian shipping line MISC and operated by a unit of Chevron, suffered water ingress following an explosion during routine maintenance.

One crew member has been confirmed dead, while the remaining 28 are said to be safe and the ship is stable. The Royal Thai Navy said that the crude oil heating system is not working due to a lack of power, raising the potential for an oil leak. 

The 104,500 dwt FSO, with a storage capacity of 650,000 barrels, has been in operation at the Benchamas field in Block B8/32 in the Gulf of Thailand since 2018. It sits about 207 km off Sattahip in Chon Buri province.

Last year, an estimated 50,000 litres of oil leaked into the ocean from a subsea pipeline owned by Star Petroleum. Some of the oil reached the shoreline of the eastern province of Rayong, causing damage to the local environment and tourism.

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