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North Sea oil worker killed by freak wave

04 January 2016

A freak wave killed one worker and injured two others on a semi-submersible rig operating on the Troll field in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea. The wave hit the COSL Innovator on December 30 approximately 40 miles west of Bergen, and Aker Solutions has since confirmed the deceased man was one of its staff.

Stock image
Stock image

The rig is under contract to Statoil, which said it had been taken off a well due to the heavy weather caused by Storm Frank when the incident occurred.

Jorgen Arnesen, chief executive of the Norwegian subsidiary of Chinese firm COSL, said: “We know that the Innovator was hit by a freak wave and that it smashed some of the windows in the accommodation module and water came through into the module. That is as much as I can say at present. I cannot speculate further than that.”

The two injured workers were airlifted to hospital in Bergen. Norway’s Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) said it would conduct an inquiry into the incident.

The PSA said this was the first fatal accident in Norwegian waters since a subcontractor working on the StatoilHydro-operated Oseberg B platform in the North Sea fell from scaffolding in 2009.

Elsewhere in the North Sea a barge was set adrift by the heavy seas, causing the evacuation of several rigs.

BP ordered more than 230 staff to evacuate the Valhall field in Norwegian waters after the barge broke its moorings and threatened to crash into nearby platforms.

“We have shut production down on Valhall as a precautionary measure,” said BP. “We have taken some of the workers to nearby platforms so that they can get production back up quickly when the situation improves.”

ConocoPhillips also shut down production at the Ekofisk field and evacuated workers, which in turn resulted in the temporary shutdown of the Eldfisk and Embla fields.

The barge eventually drifted past the platforms without causing any damage, and the owners are expected to try to regain control of the vessel when the sea state improves.

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