At least 32 dead in worst offshore disaster since Piper Alpha

*Platform 10, the Guneshli field offshore Azerbaijan.

*Platform 10, the Guneshli field offshore Azerbaijan.

05 December 2015 – Oil and Gas People has learned that at least 32 People are dead in what has been hailed one of the worst offshore disasters since Piper Alpha.

The incident in the Caspian Sea yesterday happened on Platform 10 on the Guneshli field offshore Azerbaijan. It is believed severe weather ruptured a gas line causing an explosion and huge fire that engulfed the platform.

Rescue was hindered due to 8m waves and strong winds. Just a few hours after the incident and as Oil and Gas People were getting reports of people trapped in lifeboats blown against the platform, a spokesman for the State Oil Company (SOCAR) went on record saying that everyone had been safely evacuated. The region is notorious for controlling the media and very little information has been released by SOCAR who have declined to take our calls.

An Independent committee has now issued a statement saying that they believe at least 32 people have died whilst 42 workers were rescued. Mirvari Gakhramanly, head of Azerbaijan’s Oil Workers Rights Protection Committee also confirmed the platform fire has finally been extinguished.

Several eye witnesses have contacted Oil and Gas People with horrific accounts of bodies floating in the water as rescue vessels struggled to get close to the burning platform.

SOCAR have issued three emergency response numbers but Oil and Gas People has been unable to get an answer on two of the numbers with the third repeatedly hanging up when we call.

SOCAR said on its Facebook page on Saturday that 26 workers had been rescued from the platform. It did not give details on whether there had been any deaths or how many people were initially on the platfrom.

Around 60% of SOCAR’s oil production passes via the platfrom where the fire broke out, meaning that the company’s output will be hit.

The bulk of Azerbaijan’s oil is produced elsewhere, however, including on fields operated by British oil major BP.

The tragic incident follows another incident on another SOCAR platform earlier in the day. In that incident an accommodation module is reported to have collapsed to sea and it is believed 3 people have been killed.

The region has been battered by some of the worst weather in recent years with reports of 12m waves in areas. Another incident last night seen a flotel lose at least 3 anchors and there is reports that the BP platform it was linked to may be down manned today as no vessels can get close due to the anchors in the water.

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