Salvage Operations Ongoing at Grounded Semisub Off Isle of Lewis
Using ropes to scale the grounded Transocean Winner semisubmersible rig, eight salvage experts boarded the rig on 14 August. The rig ran aground off the Isle of Lewis on 8 August while reportedly in transit from Norway to Malta, from where it was to be moved to a shipyard in Turkey to be scrapped. Towed by the anchor handling tug Alp Forward, the tug lost the tow in severe weather and was unable to reestablish a connection. High winds blew the semisub aground.
Smit Salvage, a Dutch company, confirmed that two diesel tanks in the hull are intact. A total of 137 metric tons of diesel fuel will be transferred to other tanks above the water line using onboard pumping systems.
The UK government said last week that as much as 53 tons of diesel fuel were spilled from tanks in the pontoons of the rig. Surveillance flights showed no oily sheen on the water, indicating that the fuel had probably evaporated or dissipated.
A 300-m exclusion zone is in place surrounding the rig, which covers both air and sea.
Survey work is being done to plan a safe route for moving the rig when it is possible to do so.
Ganado Advocates, a Malta-based legal firm announced in April that it was appointed by Transocean to assist with the recycling of a number of offshore drilling rigs in Turkey. The firm said that Transocean is cold-stacking rigs in Malta while considering a range of options, and that “Malta, a major player in the shipping industry, is for the first time involved in the trans-boundary movement of hazardous waste, being oil drilling rigs, to be recycled and disposed of in an environmentally sound manner in Turkey.”
The Transocean Winner was built in 1983. In its fleet status report dated 21 July, the company listed the rig’s most recent contract was with Marathon in the North Sea from August 2015 to July 2016.
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