An investigation is underway after a rescue ship “made contact” with a Noble Corporation oil rig leg, weeks ahead of a jack-up “issue” leading to work being ceased at a flagship IOG North Sea field.
Last week it was announced that the Noble Hans Deul jack-up rig was forced to return to port after an “issue” was identified with one of the legs on Sunday, Oct 10 while stationed at the IOG Southwark installation in the Southern North Sea.
Energy Voice has learned that, on August 22, an ERRV rescue vessel “made contact” with the same portside leg while stationed at the nearby Blythe installation for IOG.
HSE, Noble Corporation (NYSE: NE) and Esvagt, the owners of the ERRV vessel, say the information to date does not suggest the two cases are connected.
A source told Energy Voice that the incident took place when the ERRV was patrolling the Blythe 500metre zone when it started to head into the Blythe platform.
Noble Corporation said the incident happened at “low speed” and that there was “no damage” to the Noble Hans Deul and “superficial damage” to the Esvagt Castor ship.
A spokesperson added that work was then suspended and a specialist team was flown in to verify the integrity of the rig.
“Those investigations confirmed no damage had occurred to the Noble Hans Deul – the leg structure, including bracing, welds and associated coatings, sustained no damage or impact to its integrity, and the installation was cleared by independent assessors as ready to continue work at full operational capability.
“The issue identified with bracing on the port-side leg of the Noble Hans Deul, during jacking operations while afloat in the Southwark field on Sunday, October 10, indicates that the two events are not connected.”
An HSE spokesperson said the safety regulator is aware of the incident and that an investigation is ongoing.
However, they added: “At this stage, the investigation information received to date, indicates that the two events are not connected.”
Jake Molloy, regional organiser of the RMT union, said: “It appears all parties are pointing to the two events being purely ‘coincidental’ and we will have to wait for the investigation outcomes from both events to have that verified.
“It is entirely reasonable to conclude they may be linked, and the workforce safety reps should be part of any investigations so as to assure the workforce there were no failings in respect of actions taken and that the assertion of the events being coincidental are indeed accurate.
“It may well be the case the events are unrelated given the NHD was in operating mode when it was struck, (that is the legs were jacked down) as had there been any significant damage then the ‘jacking-up’ operation in order to move location might have been impacted.”
Last week, Southwark operator IOG said the Noble rig is expected to return to port following the “issue” identified during jack-up operations, however details of the problem and how it occurred have not been disclosed.
An Esvagt spokesperson said: “There has been a minor incident and the investigation is still ongoing
“We do not see this later challenge with the rig and the incident with thecEsvagt Caster as connected from our side at this point in time.”