Kolskaya platform: under hatches of icy waters
The jack-up rig named Kolskaya capsized and sank within 20 minutes on early Sunday morning.
The Kolskaya was being towed from Kamchatka to Sakhalin with 67 people aboard when it was caught in high waves. The platform, owned by Arktikmorneftegazrazvedka (AMNGR), had 67 crew members aboard with 32 out of them who come from the Murmansk region.
Kolskaya was caught in the storm 200 km away from Sakhalin in the Sea of Okhotsk. Outlet manifolds collapsed allowing water into the system. 6-7 m high waves broke in portholes of the vessel’s canteen. Water drainage systems failed to respond properly to the inflow of sea water. The platform capsized and sank down in the waters of 1.042 meters depth.
According to preliminary statements, the accident was caused by weather conditions. Reportedly, gusts of wind reached velocity of 15-20 m/sec.
By now, 14 people were saved; in the meantime 14 were found perished; despite stormy and foggy weather searches are presently underway.
December 20 is the mourning day in the Murmansk region.
UPD by ITAR-TASS: (19:00 Moscow time, December 19). 9 perished persons were identified by name; 6 of them are Murmansk citizens.
The official version based on damaged pipes and crashed portholes is questioned by marine experts.
Some claim that intense swinging of waves was the factual reason for making the platform overturn. “As long as the rig was in proper gear with the icebreaker, it kept floating. Yet after one of the towing cables had torn off due to swinging, then the Kolskaya dipped some water with its board and turned over”, presumes Kommersant.
Komsomolskaya Pravda believes that the rig was damaged earlier during its transportation from Murmansk to Magadan in summer 2011. A crack was detected in one of the rig’s tanks when the Kolskaya was disembarked from Transshelf cargo motorship. The source of the newspaper claims that the crack was repaired, yet due to stormy conditions it might have broken out again.
- It’s not a professional approach to blame stormy weather, thinks Mikhail Voitenko, the chief editor of Sea Bulletin. Oil rigs are towed all over the world; and the conditions of the Sea of Okhotsk are not that tough. Two main questions are to be answered still: why did the rig carry that many people aboard during a long and challenging transportation process; besides, why did it have to be December for towing the rig, not earlier when the Sea was calmer and more predictable? Voitenko believes that the rig’s crew might be partially guilty for the accident.
In the meantime, relatives of the crew members blame management of AMNGR for violation of safety rules. In response, AMNGR assures that all norms had been met, yet there occurred ‘unforeseen circumstances’.
The jack-up oil rig Kolskaya has Murmansk as its home port. It was constructed on the Finnish shipyard – Raumo Repola – in 1985. The rig was mostly used by Norwegian offshore developers that rented the Kolskaya from AMNGR.
In August 2011, the rig was delivered from Murmansk to the sea port of Magadan. Then the rig was transported further to the Sea of Okhotsk in order to drill and test Pervoocherednaya borehole in the West-Kamchatka licensed block to the order of Gazflot. Few sources say that the rig was supposed to be relocated to Vietnam later on for the shelf project in the South China Sea.
Technical details of the rig can be found on the website of its owner – AMNGR, a subsidiary of Zarubezhneft (a Russian state-owned oil company established to run oil-and-gas projects outside Russia).
A hot telephone service is available at AMNGR - +7 8152 552300, and at Murmansk-based office of Emercom - +7 8152 39 99 99.