Highlands & Islands

Transocean boss 'sorry' for grounded rig disruption

Workers on Transocean Winner
Image caption Transocean Winner might be refloated at the weekend, if experts deem it safe to do so

A boss at offshore drilling company Transocean has said he is "extremely sorry" for the inconvenience a grounded rig has caused to an island community.

Transocean Winner was blown on to a beach at Dalmore, near Carloway on Lewis, last week.

An exclusion zone is in place around the rig.

Dave Walls, Transocean's operations director for north-west Europe, said he was personally sorry for the disruption.

Fishermen have been unable to catch crabs and lobsters as normal in the area where the rig has ended up because of the exclusion zone.

People have also been asked not to visit the beach while the restriction is in place.

Oil spill procedures

Mr Walls, along with representatives of salvage company Smit and Hugh Shaw, the secretary of state's representative for maritime salvage and intervention, who is overseeing the salvage operation, attended a public meeting in Carloway on Thursday night.

After the meeting, Mr Walls told BBC Alba the cause of the grounding was being investigated and at this stage he could not fully answer questions about what went wrong.

Mr Walls said: "Our primary focus is the safe removal of the rig.

"How I feel personally, I am extremely sorry for the inconvenience we have caused to the community.

"I am also extremely grateful for the support and the friendship."

Meanwhile, later on Friday, an exercise is due to be held to test procedures designed to deal with any potential diesel oil spill from the drilling rig grounded on Lewis.

More than 12,000 gallons (56,000 litres) of fuel were lost from two tanks on the Transocean Winner after it came ashore.

Tens of thousands of gallons remain in other tanks on the decommissioned rig.

The exercise would form part of preparations to refloat and tow away the structure.

Transocean Winner could be towed off the beach this weekend, if experts say it is safe to do so.

The structure came ashore at Dalmore, near Carloway, in bad weather during an operation last week to tow it from Norway to Malta.

Even if refloated on high tides this weekend, the rig would remain not far from shore while fresh assessments were made of it.

Later, it would be towed to another location nearby for repairs.

Mr Shaw said on Thursday that the rig would only be moved off the beach if this did not put the environment or the rig at risk of damage.

He said refloating the rig would not been done "for the sake of meeting high tides".

Mr Shaw added that once it was eventually refloated, the rig would remain in "close proximity" while further checks were made of the structure.

Personnel from Transocean and Smit, have been on board the Transocean Winner since Sunday.

As well as making damage assessments, they have been securing two towlines to the rig ready for a tug to pick them up.

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