Hundreds Flee Oil Platforms After Barge Breaks Loose

Storm causes deadly havoc in the North Sea
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 31, 2015 1:00 AM CST
Hundreds Flee Oil Platforms After Barge Breaks Loose
An oil rig in Norway's Troll field.   (Wikimedia/Hakon Thingstad)

BP says 150 people have been evacuated from its offshore oil platforms in the North Sea due to an unmanned barge drifting in rough seas toward the Valhall oil field. A company spokesman says the evacuees were taken to other oil fields as a precaution, and that 85 people remained on platforms in the Valhall field Thursday morning. He says a tugboat is trying to gain control of the barge, which broke from its anchor and started drifting amid strong winds and high waves late Wednesday. CNN reports that the 360-foot barge has begun drifting north, forcing ConocoPhillips to evacuate 145 workers from an oil field.

Earlier, Norway's Statoil said one worker was killed and two were injured when a big wave slammed into a drilling rig Wednesday in the Troll field, also in the North Sea. A spokesman for Norway's coast guard tells the BBC that the wave that hit the workers' accommodation block on the rig must have been around 60 feet high. Two other workers were injured. The rig is now making its way back to Norway with more than 50 workers aboard. Another 50 were evacuated after the accident, and a Petroleum Safety Authority Norway spokeswoman tells Reuters that they had to be lifted off the platform because winds were too strong for a helicopter to land. (Read more offshore oil stories.)

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