An oil production and storage ship exploded in southern Delta state and 10 crewmembers are feared dead, Nigerian authorities said.
An official of the Sheba Oil Exploration and Production Company confirmed the incident in a statement Thursday.
Ikemefuna Okafor said the offshore production facility known as Trinity Spirit erupted in flames in Ukpokiti, on the coast of Nigeria's southern Delta state.
He said the fire was believed to be caused by an explosion and that the incident was being investigated.
Ikemefuna said the initial responders to the incident included local fishermen and Clean Nigeria Associates, a team operating at a nearby facility.
The extent of damage is unknown. The ship is able to store up to two million barrels of oil and the explosion raises serious environmental concerns.
Three months ago an oil spill in nearby Bayelsa state spewed for one month, causing severe damage to land and water bodies before it was contained.
Ibiosiya Sukubo is a leader of one of the communities in the Niger Delta that was recently affected.
"The ecological and aquatic devastation caused by oil and gas exploitation and exploration has been quite colossal and astronomical," Sukubo said. "The movement of heavy marine vessels creating a host of turbidity without proper compensation, alleviation, remediation, is an appalling circumstance we find ourselves in Niger Delta."
Nigeria is trying to maximize its petroleum output, and authorities have intensified a crackdown on illegal tapping of pipelines.
Petroleum officials say the country loses some 150,000 barrels of oil a day to such theft.