Norway agency to investigate Barents Sea oil rig incident

9/12/2012

Norway agency to investigate Barents Sea oil rig incident

OSLO -- Norway's oil safety agency opened an investigation Wednesday into last week's scare in the Barents Sea involving an Eni drilling rig, saying the incident was likely caused by the wrong use of equipment.

The Scarabeo 8 rig heeled 5.7 degrees after sea water entered a ballast tank on Sept. 4, forcing the crew of 140 to prepare for evacuation, the company has said. In the end that was not necessary, the company said at the time. It said the problem was located, the tank was emptied and the rig was stabilized within the hour.

In 1980, 123 people died when the Alexander Kielland rig in the North Sea heeled before turning upside down and sinking. The Norwegian Petroleum Safety Authority said there was no danger of that happening to the Scarabeo 8 but that this month's incident was nonetheless "serious."

It said a ballast tank was filled unintentionally, causing the rig to heel 5.7 degrees. The rig was designed to stand 17 degrees listing, or 21 degrees if the rig was undamaged, according to the agency.

Scarabeo 8 was on a mission to drill a 2.2 km well about 165 km northwest of Norway's mainland.

Eni Norge AS, the company's Norway branch, has a 40% stake in the project, while partners Lundin Norway, RWE Dea Norge and Det Norske Oljeselskap all have a 20% stake.

Dow Jones Newswires

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