Fire on drilling rig forced evacuations

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A fire in the machine room on board the drilling rig Scarabeo 5 was under control Tueday night, but officials warned temperatures on the rig remained high. The fire prompted the evacuation of a third of those working on board.

The rig is on charter to Statoil, which reported that 33 of the 106 workers on board were evacuated either to the mainland or nearby installations in the Norwegian Sea. Statoil spokesperson Elin Isaksen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that 19 people were flown to Kristiansund while 14 were moved over to the Draugen platform.

“Statoil’s preparedness organization has been mobilized and those on board the rig are working to gain full control over the situation, to prevent the fire from flaring up again,” Isaksen told NRK.

It’s the latest in a string of accidents at Statoil, just as the company tries to  improve its safety record. Statoil was quick to point out Tuesday night that all personnel on board the Scarabeo 5 rig were accounted for and that there were no injuries.

The fire broke out around 5:30pm Tuesday. “Even though the fire is now under control, the situation isn’t back to normal because of the heat on the rig,” Isaksen said at around 9pm. Most of those still on board the rig were allowed, however, to return to their cabins while others worked to cool off the rig.

It’s not the first time there’s been a fire on board the Scarabeo 5, which is owned by Saipem of Italy. Newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad has reported fires in September 2012 and September 2013.

There reportedly was no need to mobilize search and rescue crews from the mainland. “Statoil has good control over the situation, and hasn’t asked for assistance,” Johan Mannsåker of the main emergency center (Hovedredningssentralen) for Southern Norway told NRK.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund