Fire on Azerbaijan oil rig still on, search for missing continues (UPDATE 3)

Society Materials 7 December 2015 13:38 (UTC +04:00)
None of those missing after the accident on Guneshli offshore field have been found so far.

Details added (first version posted on 11:14)

Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec.7

By Azad Hasanli - Trend:

None of those missing after the accident on Guneshli offshore field have been found so far, The State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) said.

Received information said some lifejackets have been found on the Buzovna township coast, however, those turned out to be fishermen jackets, chief engineer of SOCAR's Azneft production association Balamirza Alirahimov said.

Alirahimov said that the fire on the platform at Guneshli field is still going on, adding that the waves reaching 3.5 meters hamper extinguishing the fire.

Currently, the special headquarters located on the platform #5 is discussing the further activities taking into account the speed and direction of the wind, he added.

"The searches will start on the platform #501 and will continue on other trestles," said Alirahimov. "Meanwhile, the helicopters of the Ministry of Emergency Situations and other structures have started searches since morning."

Seven boats, including two fireboats of the Caspian Shipping Company continued the work on extinguishing the fire on Guneshli-10 platform, he said.

Currently, the officials of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, State Border Guard Service and SOCAR are holding a meeting on the platform #5 on deciding on the directions of the search, eliminating the technical problems and so on, said Alirahimov.

"Today's weather conditions allow us to carry out the work both with boats and helicopters," said the chief engineer. "Unfortunately, we haven't been able to find the missing oil workers so far."

The chief engineer noted that the search work is coordinated at government level with the countries of the Caspian Sea region.

"All information from these countries is received by the State Border Guard Service and Ministry of Emergency Situations of Azerbaijan," said Alirahimov. "Once we receive information about the missing, we will react properly."

Further, he said that preparatory work on restoring the production on the platform started in the evening.

The fire has damaged only a part of the platform, therefore, SOCAR specialists will assess the possibility of restoring it, said Alirahimov.

"Fire on one part of the platform doesn't mean that we have absolutely lost it," said the chief engineer. "After extinguishing the fire, we will simply dismantle the equipment which has become inoperable and then carry out installation work."

"If it is possible, the damaged equipment and constructions will be replaced with new ones and it will be possible to drill new wells from the platform," he said.

The chief engineer noted that the daily production on the platform totaled 900 tons of oil and 1.8 million cubic meters of gas.

Alirahimov pointed out that the whole work on the Guneshli platform is carried out by the structures accountable to SOCAR.

"Separate groups have been created which render all necessary assistance to the families of missing oil workers," he added.

As a result of a strong storm on Dec.4 at 17:40 (UTC/GMT + 4 hours), a high-pressure underwater gas pipeline was damaged which caused a fire at Guneshli field of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan.

Large-scale rescue operation resulted in 33 people being rescued, while body of one oil worker was recovered. Currently, 29 people are listed as missing.

Edited by SI