63 workers evacuated as oil rig tilts during Norway Yard stay


63 workers evacuated as oil rig tilts during Norway Yard stay


OSLO -- The Island Innovator rig tilted up to four degrees at a yard on Norway's west coast, forcing the evacuation of 63 workers, the third time rig safety was compromised by tilting in less than a year.

This happened at 04:30 local time, and 63 people were evacuated said Gisle Johanson, head of communications at Odfjell Drilling. "100 people were working on board, and we reduced that number to 37."

In 1980, 123 people died when the Alexander Kielland rig in the North Sea tilted before turning upside down and sinking.

The Island Innovator, owned by Stavanger based Marine Accurate Well, arrived at Bergen Group's yard at Hanoytangen outside of Bergen from the Cosco yard in China where it was built. After some additional work and testing, the rig was supposed to head for the North Sea, to drill for Lundin Petroleum at the giant Johan Sverdrup discovery.

At the maximum, the tilting was four degrees. The leak has now been stopped, and the heeling is decreasing. We are about to normalise the situation said Mr. Johanson.

The tilting was caused by a leak of seawater into a pump room, Mr. Johanson said, but he didn't want to go into details. The seawater should have been going to the ballast tanks, he said.

I expect the incident to be investigated said Roy Erling Furre of the SAFE offshore union. "If we are losing the grip on our rig stability work, it's serious."

When the Floatel Superior housing platform, owned by Floatel International, tilted up to 4 degrees in the Norwegian Sea in November last year, operator Statoil evacuated 336 people by helicopter amid gale force winds, snow and 10 meter waves.

An investigation by the Norwegian Petroleum Safety (PSA) identified a number of regulatory breaches after an unsecured anchor had created eight holes in the hull of Floatel Superior.

The Scarabeo 8 rig, owned by Saipem heeled 7 degrees in the Barents Sea in September, after sea water entered a ballast tank unintentionally, forcing the crew of 140 to prepare for evacuation. An investigation by the Petroleum Safety Authority proved serious breaches of regulations.

Dow Jones Newswires

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