Gazprom Neft denies it, but both Lloyd’s List Intelligence and Greenpeace Russia have released information indicating the old jack-up rig was damaged by the storm on November 7th.
A lifeboat was lost and the helipad was damaged. The entire crew was evacuated from the rig to a following support vessel, Greenpeace Russia says.
The platform was under tow from the Dolginskoye field in the Petchora Sea towards Murmansk when it was struck by the storm.
Russia’s State Marine Rescue Service confirms in an e-mail to the Moscow Times that the crew indeed was taken off the rig, but had returned now as “Saturn” is currently moored near Cape Kanin, taking shelter from the storm.
While Greenpeace claims the incident is another confirmation that Arctic drilling is jeopardizing the environment, the Bellona Murmansk group says this is an example off lack of public available information.
“There is no information about the incident,” says Andrey Zolotkov with Bellona Murmansk in a comment to BarentsObserver.
He says the only information provided is the one from Greenpeace.
“This once again demonstrates the way the company is putting a lock over information while they operate the platform. This is not like it should be when it comes to safety in the Arctic,” says Zolotkov.
Gazprom Neft operates the 26-years old Romanian owned rig “Saturn” under a two-year agreement for drilling the Dolginskoye field in the Pechora Sea. The field is believed to hold some 200 million tons of oil equivalents.
The company partly confirms to the Moscow Times that the crew was partially evacuated and towing had been suspended. The press service of the company assures “there were no incidents or disasters at the jack-up rig.”
In 2011, the Murmansk-based jack-up rig “Kolskaya” sank while under tow in the Sea of Okhotsk during a heavy storm. 53 of the crew members, many of them from Murmansk, was killed.
The “Saturn”, handled by three professional tugboats from Norway, is in a better position than the “Kolskaya”, which had been towed by icebreakers that were poorly suited for towing, says Mikhail Voitenko, editor-in-chief of news website the Maritime Bulletin to the Moscow Times.
Greenpeace Arctic Oil Watch says in an e-mail to BarentsObserver that the two tug vessels, “STRIL COMMANDER” and “STRIL CHALLENGER” have arrived back on the scene after sailing west from the rig on Thursday.
The two other vessels that stay with “Saturn” near Cape Kanin is the tug “STRILBORG” and the rescue vessel “SPASATEL KAREV”.