Rogue barge threatens platforms
Eide Barge and the Eide Wrestler tug were on their way home from an assignment for the German navy off Tunisia, in gale-force winds and average wave heights of four metres.
Under these difficult weather conditions, the uncrewed barge, which was 110 metres long, 30 metres broad and 30 metres deep, tore free of the tug.
This was during the evening, after darkness had fallen, and the rogue vessel was left drifting without control in an area close to Valhall and Ekofisk.
The threat of a possible collision with installations on these fields prompted a production shutdown on both as soon as the accident became known.
For safety reasons, operators BP on Valhall and ConocoPhillips on Ekofisk also decided to evacuate the platforms on both fields. Almost 400 personnel were flown off, with 95 of those from Ekofisk taken to land and the rest to other platforms in the area.
Tension rose as the barge initially drifted towards Valhall. Fortunately, everyone could breath a sigh of relief when it passed the field at a distance of less than 2 000 metres.
It took a day to bring the position under control. Response personnel succeeded in boarding the barge and attaching hawsers so that it could be towed towards land by anchorhandler Siem Garnet.
Once this vessel had reached calmer waters on New Year’s Eve, the barge could be reconnected to Eide Wrestler and continue its voyage.
“This is the type of incident which shouldn’t happen, but which unfortunately occurs now and again,” commented George Eide, chair and CEO of barge owner Eide Marine. “The weather has been extreme.”
Production could resume on Valhall and Ekofisk. The incident had not been without cost to the operators, but this did not amount to much when all turned out well.[REMOVE]Fotnote: NTB, “Løpsk lekter slepes mot land”, 31 December 2015.Eldfisk II operational with 2/7 SFirst well permanently plugged