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HSE confirms unexploded military device still in place near Ninian Central platform in North Sea

20 October 2017

The UK Health and Safety Executive has confirmed that an unexploded device, discovered in August near the Ninian Central platform in the North Sea, has yet to be removed. The device, believed to be a depth charge, was discovered by a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) while carrying out a routine inspection around the rig, according to platform operator Canadian Natural Resources (CNR). 

Ninian Central platform: Image: CNR
Ninian Central platform: Image: CNR

HSE also confirmed that a specialist company has been contracted to remove the device but that no removal date has been set. When originally located two months ago a risk assessment concluded the device should be removed at the “earliest opportunity.”

The object was discovered last month following a routine inspection of pipelines in the Strathspey field. The blast radius is not thought to endanger the platform, which is 130 metres away, but it is located near some pipelines and other subsea infrastructure.

A maritime exclusion zone of 75 metres has been set up around the device, and all diving in the area has been suspended. According to a risk assessment, the chance of the object self-detonating is believed to be "remote". If it did, then predictions are that any infrastructure within 5 metres could be damaged.

After its discovery in August, a spokeswoman for CNR said: "CNR International has informed all relevant authorities and is in discussion with a specialist company, who have classed the device as safe, and are working to formulate a forward plan.”

When built in 1978, the Ninian Central Platform was the world’s largest man-made movable object and weighed 600,000 tonnes.

It was originally operated by Chevron before being transferred to CNR Limited and transfers oil to the Sullom Voe Terminal in Shetland via the Ninian Pipeline System.

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