Local Leaders Call for Local Work on Grounded Rig

The Winner under way for Broad Bay (courtesy JohnGM7PBB / twitter)

By MarEx 2016-08-25 20:41:19

Local politicians in the Outer Hebrides have called on rig operator Transocean to repair or scrap the damaged drilling rig Transocean Winner at a facility not far from where the rig went aground earlier this month. 

Councilor Angus Campbell of the Western Isles Council wrote to the firm to ask if the rig could be fixed or recycled at Arnish, a manufacturing and transshipment facility with a 350-foot deepwater quay, covered work areas and equipment for maintaining and fabricating steel structures for offshore installations. The offshore supply chain in the UK has seen revenue drop sharply due to the offshore industry downturn, and Campbell cited the boost to the local economy that work on the rig could bring. 

“We are pleased that you continue to engage with the local supply chain and, given the significant and positive economic impact to the islands, would now ask that serious consideration be given to the use of local facilities and engineering expertise in carrying out the repairs," Campbell said in a letter. “We would be very happy to work with Transocean, Smit Salvage and other relevant key stakeholders to ensure that direct and indirect benefits are, as much as possible, retained in the islands.”

Duncan Craigard of the Western Isles Fishermen’s Association broadly supported the idea. "It would offer a good opportunity for those who have been laid off in the oil industry," he told The National. 

The Winner is currently moored at a temporary site in Broad Bay, Isle of Lewis, for dive surveys to determine the extent of the damage to her structure. The survey is expected to take until the middle of September. 

The Transocean Winner went aground on a headland near Carloway on August 8. The rig was in transit bound for Malta, towed by the anchor handling tug Alp Forward, and the tug lost the tow in severe weather. The Alp Forward was unable to reestablish a connection and high winds blew the Winner aground.

The rig lost 12,000 gallons of fuel in the grounding, but there has been no sign of pollution near the site of the grounding and authorities believe that the petroleum product evaporated. 

Officials with the salvage effort reported a light sheening behind the refloated rig as it entered Broad Bay but no major pollution during the transit.

Separately, on Thursday, Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney continued to raise questions about whether the Alp Forward’s voyage plan was prudent given the weather forecast the night of the grounding. He told the BBC that “it was obvious from the Met Office warnings that there was going to be a significant storm to contend with.”