The fierce storm that had battered the UK mainland also brought 24 hours of tragedy and chaos to the North Sea, leaving one oil worker dead, an unmanned barge drifting out of control, hundreds of personnel evacuated and production shutdown on several oil platforms.
The 53-year-old man who worked for Aker Solutions died after a freak wave struck the drilling rig COSL Innovator early yesterday evening.
The rig was on contract to Statoil in the Troll field west of Bergen when the accident happened. Two other personnel were injured and were treated for the injuries by medical teams in Norway.
Meanwhile, Norwegian rescuers said a potential disaster was narrowly avoided when an unmanned barge drifted past a North Sea oil field where it had been at risk of colliding with offshore platforms.
Two areas off the coast of Norway experienced winds of 11 on the Beaufort scale – a “violent storm” and one scale less than hurricane force, according to the Met Office.
Winds gusting at 70 knots had ripped the barge from its moorings and sent it towards BP’s Valhall platform in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea, close to the meridian line with UK sector.
This prompted the oil and gas company to shut down output and take the decision to evacuate all 235 personnel on board.
ConocoPhillips also stopped production and removed crew from installations in the same sector.
The barge, owned by Norwegian firm Eide Marine, had been under tow in the Dutch sector further south when it broke loose in a storm on Wednesday, said Anders Bang Andersen, a spokesman for Norway’s Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre.
He said the barge drifted past the Valhall field at a distance of about 1.8km (1.2 miles), avoiding what could have been a disastrous collision with an oil rig.
“The barge is unusually tall, more than three storeys,” Bang Andersen said.
He said weather conditions were still challenging with winds of 65kph (40 mph) and an average wave height of 4m (13 feet).
“The danger is over. There are no other installations between the barge and the coast of Norway,” Borghild Eldoen, of the RCC, said. “It is now up to the owners of the barge to stop it before it reaches the coast.”
Eide Marine said the barge had been brought under control and a line from a tug had been attached.
BP said it was beginning the process of restarting activity on the rig, but it was too soon to say when production could resume, but that it usually took 24 hours after a complete shutdown.
ConocoPhillips declined to say when its Eldfisk and Embla fields could restart production.
The COSL Innovator was making its way to port near Bergen and is expected to reach the mainland later today.
Meanwhile, offshore workers posted spectacular video footage on social media of waves battering North Sea installations as the storm – named Frank by the UK Met Office- surged towards the Norwegian coast.
A Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokeswoman said the agency had not been notified of any evacuations in the UK sector of the North Sea as a result of the severe weather.
The UK Met Office shipping forecast continued to warn of “very rough” conditions in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea throughout Thursday.