Highlands & Islands

Two of four fuel tanks on Transocean Winner 'intact'

Workers on Transocean Winner
Image caption Two teams of four are working on the rig after arriving on the structure on Sunday

Two of four fuel tanks on the grounded rig Transocean Winner that were not previously possible to inspect have been found to be intact.

Last week it emerged that the two other tanks had been breached during the grounding and more than 12,000 gallons (56,000 litres) of diesel oil lost.

Eight experts scaled the rig at Dalmore beach on Lewis with ropes on Sunday and were able to check the two other tanks.

Six more workers are due to join them later this week.

Efforts are to be made to pump the diesel oil still in the hull, 137 tonnes, to other tanks above the waterline.

Moving the stricken rig is still weeks away, according to the official overseeing the salvage work.

Hugh Shaw, who is overseeing the salvage work, also said the workers on board would remain on the structure for the "foreseeable future".

A wire is to be run between the shore and the rig so supplies and equipment can be delivered to the personnel on the Transocean Winner.

Image caption The drilling rig ran aground last week

Two helicopters are also to be brought in, one from the south of England and another from Spain by the rig's owner Transocean to lift heavy equipment if needed.

One of the helicopters, an AugustaWestland AW139 helicopter, is at Stornoway awaiting use in such an operation.

Mr Shaw, the Secretary of State's Representative for Maritime Salvage and Intervention, told BBC Alba that any attempt to refloat Transocean Winner was still weeks away.

On board Transocean Winner

Now that eight experts have been able to get on board the grounded rig, what happens next?

Hugh Shaw, the official overseeing the salvage operation, said the eight have been split into two teams of four.

One of the teams comprises staff from the rig's owner, Transocean.

Mr Shaw said they were concentrating on setting up an emergency generator and restoring as much power as possible. They have also been trying to make accommodation on the structure "as habitable as they can".

The second team, four employees of salvage company Smit, have resumed a damage assessment that they started briefly last week.

Mr Shaw said the assessment has "particular emphasis" on examining the rig's fuel tanks.

For safety reasons, the teams will do their work in daylight hours only and not at night.

Meanwhile, the rope access team which helped the eight get up on to the rig have been working on establishing a link the rig to the shore via a wire line.

Mr Shaw said the line would be used for transferring equipment and provisions.

Earlier attempts to board the rig were hampered by bad weather.

So far, salvors have only been able to make a short assessment of its condition.

On Sunday, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said rope technicians had created "a safe alternative access" to the rig.

A boat will also be used to survey the sea bed ahead of refloating the structure.

Mr Shaw said: "We have a boat out there assisting us just to try and detect what obstacles we have under the surface and that will help us map out a safe route.

"When we do get to the stage that we think we're in the position to go for a refloat, hopefully we know exactly how we're going to move her from this position out into deep water."

But Mr Shaw said the refloating of the rig was not likely to take place until towards the end of the month.

Image caption Maritime and Coastguard Agency personnel at the scene of the grounding
Image copyright PA
Image caption The rig is estimated to have lost more than 12,000 gallons (56,000 litres) of diesel oil from its fuel tanks

A 300m (984ft) exclusion zone remains in place around the rig covering both sea and air, which means no drones will be permitted in the area, although another aircraft has been brought in to help with the work.

The Transocean Winner was being towed from Norway to Malta from where it was to be moved to a yard in Turkey to be broken up.

A tow line between the rig and a tug broke during stormy weather and the structure ran aground at Dalmore at about 07:30 on 8 August.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites