UPDATED: Grounded rig's tanks damaged

August 10, 2016

Damage assessments by Smit Salvage and Transocean staff who boarded the grounded semisubmersible drilling rig Transocean Winner off the Isle of Lewis, Scotland, say two of its fuel tanks appear to have been breached. 

UPDATE: No pollution has been found at the site.

The team spent three and a half hours yesterday checking the condition of the Transocean Winner, looking at its structural integrity. Two tanks appear to have been breached, but it is unclear at this time how much oil from those tanks has been released to the environment, says the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). The MCA earlier said the rig was carrying 280-tonne of fuel.  

Salvors were due to make a second visit today, but weather conditions have made it impossible. UPDATE: A further attempt on Friday (12 July) was also made impossible by the weather. The assessments are part of the ongoing operation to remove the rig from where it grounded, nearby Dalmore beach, early Monday morning.

Transocean's GVA 4000-design rig was being towed by the tug Alp Forward from Stavanger to Malta, at the time, but had hit high winds late Sunday night and then parted from the tug. It is understood that the rig was due to be taken to Turkey to be scrapped, according to BBC reports.

Poor weather conditions had, until yesterday, hampered efforts to assess the state of the semisubmersible, which was built in 1993 and upgraded in 2006. More bad weather is also expected, which could further hinder the situation. A local blog, Atlantic Lines, suggests, subject to the rig being in a fit state, it could be floated off at the next Spring tide, late next week. 

The UK's Marine Accident Investigation Branch has also launched an investigation into the incident. 

Hugh Shaw, who as Secretary of State's Representative for Maritime Salvage and Intervention is overseeing the operation, said: "This initial recce will be checking a number of things including fuel tanks. Weather permitting, it’s then intended to put a second larger group of salvors on tomorrow [today, Wednesday 10 August] to carry out a more detailed inspection."

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said there was about 280-tonne of diesel on board the unit but that it thought the pollution risk was low. 

Three vessels including the emergency tug Herakles and the Union Bear remain on scene. A temporary exclusion zone of 300m has been implemented around the rig and people have been warned to stay away from the coastline in the area.

The Transocean Winner recently came off contract with Marathon Oil in the Norwegian North Sea on a US$498,000 day rate, but had no other work lined up, according to Transocean's latest fleet report. 

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Rig grounds off Isle of Lewis

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