Experts says high winds are likely to prevent the swift salvage of the Transocean Winner, the drilling rig that ran aground off the Isle of Lewis in Scotland on Monday.
The 17,000-tonne rig broke free after its tow line with a tug snapped during stormy conditions while being transported from Norway to Malta.
“The situation isn’t going to get any better weather-wise as we move forward, so every time we see a storm coming through there is a potential for the rig to move further and for more damage to be caused,” Hugh Shaw, the UK secretary of state’s representative for maritime salvage and intervention, told BBC Radio Scotland today.
Shaw said a period of calmer weather was needed to inspect the underside of the platform and that no crew or craft would be permitted to go in below the rig until it was safe to do so.
A team of six were put onboard on Tuesday to carry out an inspection of the rig, including the fuel tanks, and will continue their work today while the weather stays favourable.
“The weather is likely to start hampering operations from tomorrow. We know the winds are going to increase and that will certainly restrict the ability to winch people down onto the installation,” Shaw said.
Union Bear, a multipurpose offshore vessel, has arrived at Stornoway Harbour from Aberdeen to assist in the salvage operation, according to BBC reports. The emergency towing vessel Herakles and another support vessel are also at the scene.
A 300-metre temporary exclusion zone has been put in place around Dalmore beach on the island. The rig has 280 tonnes of oil onboard but no pollution has yet been reported.
The Marine Accident Investigation Branch has reportedly begun an inquiry into the incident.
Reports say the rig would have been taken from Malta to Turkey to be scrapped.