Monday, December 19, 2016

1 oil worker killed and 9 more are missing in Caspian Sea in Azerbaijan after part of their offshore oil platform broke off in strong winds.

1 dead, 9 missing in Azerbaijan offshore oil rig accident

Published December 15, 2016
Associated Press

BAKU, Azerbaijan – One oil worker has been reported killed and nine more are missing in Azerbaijan after part of their offshore oil platform broke off in strong winds.

Oil industry workers' rights activist Mirvari Gahramanli says one body was retrieved from the Caspian Sea during searches following the accident early Thursday morning.

The state oil company, known as SOCAR, reports that a 150-meter (490-foot) section of walkway fell into the sea amid 90 mph (145 kph) winds and says 10 workers are missing. It has not confirmed the death.

The company says five of the victims had been working on the installation and another five were in a cabin that was torn off the structure.

Azerbaijan's Emergencies Ministry has sent two ships to the Caspian Sea platform to search for the workers.


One offshore worker has been killed and nine are missing after an accident offshore Azerbaijan when a part of an oil installation collapsed due to strong winds.

The country’s state-owned oil company Socar said the accident happened in the Caspian Sea on the morning of December 15, 2016. The accident was on the territory of oil gathering station No 3 of Socar’s Azneft Oil & Gas Production Division.

Socar said that 150 meters of the scaffold bridge, located on the right and left sides of the oil gathering station, has fallen as a result of strong wind with speed of 41 m/s, at 5 am on Thursday.

A preliminary report by Socar stated that ten workers were missing, however, the company said later today that one body was retrieved in search and rescue operations while nine are still missing.

The oil company also named the five duty holders and five oilmen missing after the incident. Among the missing are: Zülfüqarov Güloglan, Zülfüqarov Azay, Qurbanov Vidadi, Həsənov Elçin, Hacıəliyev Həsənağa, Qafarov İlham, Əsədov Samir, Bəhrəmov Cavid, Abbasov Ramiz, Rüstəmov Qorxmaz.

Search and rescue operations are ongoing and a special commission was formed to investigate the incident.

According to a statement on Thursday from the office of the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, the search and rescue operation involves a helicopter and ships of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, Socar’s employees, and ships of the Caspian Shipping Company.

This is not the first time for a fatal accident to happen in Azerbaijan’s Caspian Sea. Last December, the country was hit by two separate offshore accident that had fatal consequences for a number of offshore workers.

Furthermore, another incident happened in the Caspian Sea in September this year after an offshore platform caught fire.


Caspian search goes on

Socar and other vessels continue effort to find nine workers missing after high winds cause accident at offshore facility

Kama Mustafayeva from Baku
15 Dec 2016 19:07 GMT Updated 15 Dec 2016 19:47 GMT

Ferocious winds made it “almost impossible to avoid” the accident at a Socar offshore installation in the Caspian Sea that left at least one worker dead and nine others missing, an official at the Azerbaijani state energy company said.

The body of Ilham Gafarov, who was in his late fifties, has been recovered from after a portion of an offshore installation collapsed due to strong winds, field operator Socar said in press briefing on Thursday.

'Fatality' after Caspian accident

According to Socar’s official statement, the fatal accident occurred in the at 5am local time on Thursday when strong winds of up to 41 metres per second blew away a 150-meter-long part of a scaffold bridge and a cabin connected to it.

Five of the 10 oilmen who were swept off the structure were on duty at the oil gathering station, while the other five were sleeping in the cabin, other sources indicated.

"One body was found and a search-and-rescue operation for nine missing workers is under way," Balamirza Agarahimov, a deputy head of Azneft, Socar’s oil and gas production subsidiary, said at a press conference in Baku.

The company had carried out existing protocols for extreme weather alerts, he said. “However, I should say that high wind in 41 metres per second almost made it impossible to prevent an accident,” said Agarahimov.

He said the walkway was built in 1978 and last had maintenance carried out in August this year. According to him, Socar no longer builds or uses such scaffold bridges and long-running ramps as they are “expensive and cost a lot for maintenance,” the company now having a preference for separate platforms for drilling and production.

However, they run for several kilometres in the Caspian in shallow-water fields in up to 20 meters of water depth. The Sangachal-Duvanny fields, where the accident occurred, are located in water depths of 10 to 11 metres.

A state commission was set up to investigate the accident. “Currently we are concentrated on the search operation. However, no one is going to consider the accident as ‘an act of God’ or result of a natural disaster,” he said.

The search and rescue operation involves a helicopter and ships of the ministry in charge of emergencies and the national shipping company, as well as Socar’s own resources. However, due to the bad weather conditions divers could not join in the operation.

Last December there was a deadly fire at the Guneshli 10 platform in what as Azerbaijan’s worst ever oil industry disaster, while there was a separate accident at the Oil Rocks field. Thirty offshore workers were lost between the two incidents.

Also, in 2016 several accidents in Socar’s offshore and onshore installations also claimed several lives.

One worker killed, 30 missing after Azeri oil rig fire: government

32 workers reported dead in Caspian oil rig fire
By Nailia Bagirova | BAKU

At least one worker was killed and 30 others were missing on Saturday after an Azeri oil platform caught fire during high winds in the Caspian Sea on Friday, state energy company SOCAR said.

As hopes of finding survivors faded, SOCAR said a severe storm was hampering rescue efforts at its platform in the Guneshli oil field.

"One body was found and a search-and-rescue operation for 30 missing workers is under way," it said in a statement, adding that 32 workers had been safely evacuated.

Earlier on Saturday, the head of Azerbaijan's Oil Workers' Rights Protection Committee, Mirvari Gakhramanly, told Reuters 32 workers had died and 42 had been rescued overnight.

The fire started after the storm damaged a natural gas pipeline, causing the platform's partial collapse.

A still image from a video footage shows an oil platform on fire in the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan, December 5, 2015. REUTERS/MEYDAN TV via Reuters

Oil production on 28 oil wells linked to the facility was suspended and all oil and gas pipelines, which link the platform with the land, were blocked as a safety precaution, SOCAR added in the joint statement with the emergency ministry and the country's chief prosecutor.

"The fire in the gas pipeline has not been completely extinguished and it has not been ruled out that it could spread to oil and gas wells near the platform," it said.

Azeri President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree to create a special commission to deal with the accident and control the rescue operation. A criminal case was opened to investigate the incident.

About 60 percent of SOCAR's oil production passes through the platform where the fire broke out, meaning the state company's output will be temporarily hit.

The bulk of Azerbaijan's oil is produced elsewhere, however, including on fields operated by British oil major BP.

BP Azerbaijan was not available for comment on Saturday on whether adverse weather in the Caspian or the fire on SOCAR's platform had affected its production.

In a separate incident, SOCAR said on Friday that three workers were missing from another of its offshore oil platforms in the Caspian after an accident during the storm. The workers were still missing as of Saturday.

Fourteen workers were killed in accidents on SOCAR's oil and gas platforms in 2014.