Salvors Near Refloat Attempt for Grounded Rig
A salvage team including members from Smit and from Transocean are preparing for a refloat attempt of the grounded semisubmersible Transocean Winner, and if all goes well and conditions are favorable, the rig could be off the rocky shores of the Isle of Lewis, Scotland as early as this weekend.
On Friday, salvors continued a process to remove diesel from the rig's pontoon tanks. Two of four tanks were damaged in the grounding, leading to the loss of some 12,000 gallons of fuel.
No signs of pollution have been observed and authorities believe that the diesel dispersed and evaporated. Hugh Shaw, the Secretary of State’s Representative for Maritime Salvage & Intervention, told the BBC that the fuel release represented an "extremely low risk" to the environment.
In a meeting Thursday night, Dave Walls, operations director for Transocean's northwest Europe division, thanked the local community for the assistance it had given in the response. He also apologized for the "inconvenience we have caused to the community."
Walls said that while the salvors were making progress, there is still a ways to go. "We need to get ourselves in a position where we're ready to float, and we're not there yet. Once we're ready to float we then need the ideal conditions to float – and that's a suitable weather window, no wind, the right tide. Everything needs to be just right because we get one opportunity to do it right,” he said.
Hugh Shaw told the meeting that "as soon as I am in a position to share when [the refloat] is going to happen, I’ll do so. The community has been supportive of us in our work and we – in return – have done our utmost to make sure they know what we’re doing and how and when."
The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency said in an update that compressors were being delivered for the refloat attempt. The agency also warned aircraft or drone pilots to keep out of the 300-meter exclusion zone around the rig or risk prosecution.
The Transocean Winner went aground on a headland of the Isle of Lewis, Scotland 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.