15 January 2013, Sweetcrude, Lagos – The Nigerian government may consider the relocation of tank farms from the port area of Apapa, following last week’s explosion at the storage facility belonging to the MRS Oil and Gas Company in Apapa Lagos.
Disclosing this in Lagos during a visit to the MRS depot, the Transport Minister, Senator Idris Umar, said that stakeholders in both the maritime and oil and gas sectors have been complaining about the presence of these facilities in Apapa.
He said a Committee has been set up to look into the remote and immediate causes of the fire that led the explosion, adding that the Committee has two weeks to submit its report.
The Minister stated that besides trying to know the cause of the fire, what is more important is the lessons to be learnt from the experience.
“A Committee has been set to they are look at the situation in all its ramifications including off-course the location these tank farms around here.
“It is a matter of concern, people have expressed a lot of concern, we are going to look at it, definitely, it has to be addressed,” he said.
Explaining what happened to the minister, Group Executive Director, MRS , Amina Maina, said that the vessel was empty when the fire started, adding that firm had enough time to evacuate everybody from the premises before the explosion occurred.
“By the time the explosion occurred everybody was out of the compound so there was no serious casualty except for about three or four who had scratches on their bodies,” she stated.
Maina further explained that the loading bay had an automatic shutting system, adding that the system shut itself when the fire alarm was raised, and that the 22,000 metric tonne barge which was shattered by the explosion actually belonged to MRS.
The MRS management said it had stopped operations pending when it will run a test on all its equipment and facilities and certify them okay.
Meanwhile, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, has said that the damaged barge has automatically become a wreck and will be treated as such.