Floatel Superior

Norway’s Statoil has evacuated 326 people amid rough weather from a housing platform in the Norwegian Sea, after it was tilted by three to four degrees.

The ballast tank of the Floatel Superior accommodation rig was punctured by an anchor last night, leading to water seepage and concerns for the safety of the people on board. There was no suspected danger of oil or gas leaks at the field.

The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Southern Norway used six helicopters for the evacuation, out of which three were operated between the platform and the nearby Njord A drilling rig, while the remaining three were used to move people from Njord A to a reception centre in Kristiansund on the Norwegian west coast.

Petroleum Safety Authority spokeswoman, Inger Anda, told the Wall Street Journal that people were moved in weather that was considered impossible for evacuation.

"Had this continued, the situation would have been more critical and put more stress on people," Anda added.

Statoil said the rig was disconnected from the Njord platform when the ballast tank was punctured and immediately rectified to reinstate the rig’s stability.

A security group of 48 people tasked with emergency duties are left out on board Floatel Superior, which is now being prepared for removal out of the safety zone around the Njord A field.

Rescue centrr press spokesman, Einar Knudsen, said: "The weather is a bit rough, wind in gale force, wave heights of eight to ten metres and snow. The wind is west, north-west. So far, the helicopters have had no problems".

Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) announced that it would start an investigation into the Floatel Superior incident.

PSA was also investigating an incident that took place in Barents Sea during September 2012, where a drilling rig operated by Saipem was tilted after its ballast tank was unintentionally filled.

The Njord A field, in which Statoil owns a 20% stake, has been closed since September 2012 and is due to restart production.

The other stakeholders of the field are GDF Suez with 40%, E. ON with 30%, Faroe Petroleum with 7.5% and VNG Norge, with the remaining 2.5% interest.

Image: Floatel Superior rig in the Norwegian Sea. Photo courtesy of Statoil.