Sunday, February 10, 2008

Oil Platform Evacuated, "Device" Found

BBC NEWS - Hundreds of oil workers are being airlifted from an oil platform in the North Sea following a security alert.

A total of 539 people are being taken off the Safe Scandinavia accommodation platform in an operation involving 13 helicopters and a fixed wing aircraft.

They are being transported to rigs in the area.

The operation, 130 miles off the Aberdeen coast, began at 0920 GMT and is being co-ordinated by Grampian Police.

A spokesman for Aberdeen Coastguard said it was a "large scale" operation and that two platforms were involved, but that just one was being evacuated.

'Unusual incident'

Britannia Operator Limited, which owns the platform, confirmed that reports were being investigated of an incident involving the Flotel Safe Scandinavia.

It said the relevant emergency authorities had been alerted and a company response team was assisting in the co-ordination of support services.

The company added that it was doing everything possible to resolve the situation.

The Ministry of Defence said five RAF helicopters were involved in the operation, along with coastguard aircraft.

Squadron leader Barry Neilson, from RAF Kinloss, said of the incident: "It's unusual, that's probably the best way to describe it. But it falls within our normal operating procedures and we are reacting accordingly.

He added that there was a report of a woman on the platform who had sparked the incident, but he could not go into details at this stage.

The Press Association reported that a "device" had been found on board.

However, Mr Neilson said "we are not sure about a device".

He added that the next stage would be to look at getting specialist staff on board the platform to check it over.

He said that could involve bomb disposal experts, however, those co-ordinating the alert were waiting instructions from government ministers in London.