A recently-built rig that housed offshore oil workers partly collapsed into the sea off the shore of Qatar earlier this week and will need months of repairs, its owners said in an official statement.
The support barge Rumailah was a floating staff accommodation block owned and operated by Qatar-based Gulf Drilling International (GDI) and was in the Al Shaheen field, which is run by Maersk Oil Qatar.
On Sunday, July 5, the rig suffered what was described as a “punch through incident,” according to the parent company Gulf International Services (GIS), which issued a statement to Qatar’s stock exchange.
This refers to a situation when one of the rig’s support legs goes through the sea bed, causing the barge to list to the side, a source told Doha News.
All staff were evacuated from the support rig, GIS said.
“The Barge will be taken to Nakilat shipyard for repair and maintenance, which is expected to take a few months approximately. GDI advised that there were no personal injuries and that all personnel had been safely evacuated from the vessel, ” the company added in its statement to Qatar Exchange.
In a statement, Maersk Oil said: “We are supporting Gulf Drilling International (GDI) following a punch through incident offshore on 5 July, involving the GDI owned and operated Jack-up rig ‘Rumailah.’
“All personnel are safe and accounted for and no damage to Al Shaheen facilities has been reported.”
A spokesman told Doha News that an investigation into the incident is underway.
The rig, which is understood to have been built in 2014 and is known as a “liftboat,” can float and move into position, and has three legs that jack down to the sea-bed for support and stability.
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Photographs of the rig after the incident, published in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenbladet, show it leaning at an angle and partly submerged. A number of small orange boats with people on board can be seen around it.
According to the paper, it had only recently come out of repairs after incurring problems with one of its jack-up legs.
The Al Shaheen oil field, 80km off Qatar’s shores, is one of the world’s largest producing fields, providing around 300,000 barrels of oil a day – one-third of the state’s daily oil production.
The field was initially discovered in the 1970s but at that time thought to be impossible to develop commercially, as the reservoirs were stretched across large distances.
Maersk Oil started working there in 1992 after it entered into an exploration and production sharing agreement with Qatar Petroleum, and two years later the first oil was produced.
In May this year, QP invited other international oil companies to compete to operate and develop the field, after the agreement with Maersk Oil expires in mid-2017.
Maersk’s Chief Executive Nils Andersen had previously voiced his optimism that the existing agreement would be extended, albeit on different terms.
“Whether it will be better or worse we don’t know, but it could easily be a win-win,” he told Danish daily Berlingske, Reuters reported at the time.