ONGC, an Indian oil and gas company, said on Tuesday that cyclone Tauktae, which struck the Arabian Sea off the coast of Mumbai in the early hours of May 17, had impacted three of its barges and one of its drillships, causing them to lose their anchors and drift away.
The cyclone hit an area where ONGC’s major production installations and drilling rigs are located, with wind speed rising to nearly 150-180 Km/hr , and with 6 to 8 meters high waves.
"Due to the severe cyclonic storm, unfortunate incidences have occurred involving three construction barges of M/s Afcons working on a project of ONGC in Western Offshore fields in the Arabian Sea and one drilling rig of ONGC deployed for exploration purpose," ONGC said Tuesday.
"ONGC is taking all possible measures in coordination with ODAG (Offshore Defence Advisory Group) and MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) to ensure the safety of personnel and vessels," the company said.
According to ONGC, due to a combination of the cyclone and high sea swell, the anchors of the barge ‘Papaa–305’ had given away, and the vessel started drifting.
"For rescue operation, INS Kochi and INS Kolkata - two ships of Indian Navy and one Tug Boat of Afcons, one offshore Supply vessel of ONGC, Coast Guard vessel ‘ICG Samarth’ have also been pressed into service. These vessels have reached the location and have started rescue operations. Three more ONGC OSVs and two MSVs (Multipurpose Support Vessel) have been mobilized," ONGC said. [UPDATE: The barge has reportedly sunk and a rescue op is underway for 81 workers. See the link at the bottom of the article.]
Also, anchors of the Barge ‘Support Station-3’ gave away and the Barge started drifting North-West.
"[The barge] is clear of all operational Installations of Mumbai High. The vessel is under control and there is no water ingress. Two ONGC OSVs are on their way to provide the necessary help," ONGC said.
Also, ONGC said Tuesday that the barge ‘Gal Constructor’ was drifting at Colaba Point with water ingress in the engine room. Coast Guard vessel ‘ICG Samrat’ and Mumbai Port Trust vessel ‘Water Lily’ are at the location for rescue and support.
Furthermore, ONGC drillship ‘Sagar Bhushan’ deployed for exploration in western offshore, lost its anchors, and started drifting north.
"Four ONGC charter hired vessels are at the location for rescue operations. Two ONGC MSVs are also on their way. ‘ICGS Shoor’ of Coast Guard has been diverted for rescue operations," ONGC said Tuesday. The company did not say how many people were aboard the affected installations.