Posted by: The ocean update | December 5, 2015

Azerbaijan : 1 Dead, 30 Missing, 33 Saved After Oil Rig Fire (Caspian Sea)

oil-rig-Azerbaijan-on-fireDecember 5th, 2015. One worker was killed, 30 were missing and 33 were rescued Saturday after a fire swept through a Caspian Sea oil platform owned by Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR (State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic), the company said.

The missing workers were in a lifeboat that fell into stormy seas, according to a joint statement issued late Saturday by SOCAR, the country’s emergency services and the prosecutor general’s office.

The fire on the platform in the offshore Guneshli field broke out Friday evening when an underwater gas pipeline was damaged in a heavy storm. Strong winds and waves up to 33 feet high made rescue operations extremely difficult, the statement said.

The workers evacuated the platform, getting into two lifeboats, which were then lowered to 10 meters above the water, the statement said. Ships were sent to the site to then pull the lifeboats to shore but they were prevented from doing so by the heavy seas.

About 10:45 p.m. Friday, a hook holding one of the lifeboats popped open and the boat fell into the sea, the statement said, adding that a nearby ship was able to rescue three workers from that lifeboat and retrieve the body of one who died. The workers in the other lifeboat were rescued Saturday, it said.

The fire was still burning Saturday night, the statement said.

The state oil company and the government had declined all day to say how many workers were on the platform when the fire started or how many had been missing.

Mirvari Gakhramanly, who heads a non-governmental organization that defends the rights of oil workers, had told The Associated Press earlier Saturday that 32 workers were believed to be missing as a result of an overturned lifeboat.

Ed Sibylline : The Caspian Sea, surrounded by the five littoral countries, is the largest land-locked body of water on earth. The isolation of the Caspian basin, its climate and its sea characteristics like salinity gradients, have created a unique ecological system. Today the Caspian Sea environment faces significant environmental pressure. Overfishing, discharging wastewater and exploration and production of gas and oil among others put great pressure on this unique ecosystem and many Caspian biota are threatened by over-exploitation, habitat destruction and pollution.

Animals of the Caspian Sea (link)

The Caspian Sea is one of the Top 11 areas for preserving marine mammals

Citation : S. Pompa, P. R. Ehrlich, G. Ceballos. Global distribution and conservation of marine mammalsProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2011; 108 (33) : 13600 DOI : 10.1073/pnas.1101525108

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