Cyclone Tauktae has caused havoc in India’s offshore oil and gas industry with at least 74 seafarers feared dead, four offshore support vessels adrift and one offshore workboat sinking
It left multiple vessels and hundreds of seafarers in distress in the Arabian Sea. Indian Coast Guard swiftly mobilised its vessels along with other offshore support vessels (OSVs) and tugs to rescue barges, rigs and ships in peril.
Three workboats operated by Afcons Infrastructure were cast adrift by the cyclone while on contract to India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) working on the Mumbai High oilfield complex. Offshore work barge Papaa-305 (P305) became unstable and subsequently sank with 273 people on board. On 18 May, Indian Coast Guard said it had rescued many of those seafarers serving on P305, but at least 74 were still missing. Naval vessels INS Beas, Betwa, Teg, Kochi and Kolkata and ONGC-operated vessels were continuing the search for those still missing.
Other barges, Gal Constructor and Support Station-3 (SS-3), were also set adrift, fully manned, in waves up to 8 m on 17 May. By 19 May Indian Coast Guard had rescued all 202 people on SS-3 and 137 personnel on Gal Constructor, which had grounded on the Indian coast.
“Effectively co-ordinated rescue operations resulted in saving all 137 precious lives from the distressed barge. Our rescue mission was accomplished,” said Indian Coast Guard in an online post.
Cyclone Tauktae caused ONGC-operated drillship Sagar Bhushan to break its moorings and drift with 95 people on board. It was brought under control by an SCI-operated tug.
During the storm, jack-up rig Valliant Driller lost part of its superstructure and jack-up Sagar Kiran lost power when its emergency generator failed.
Tug Coromandal Supporter IX was forced aground off Karnataka in high winds. Indian Coast Guard cutter Varaha Gemini and a naval helicopter evacuated the tug’s crew.
Indian Coast Guard said OSV Greatship Aditi and tanker Desh Bhakt were stricken with power and propulsion issues.
“Risk of a major oil spill was averted. Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre Mumbai co-ordinated with both ships and propulsion was restored and a total of 45 crew on board both vessels are safe,” said Indian Coast Guard.
According to Fleetmon, tug Sangita was also caught by the cyclone with a barge on tow and 10 people on board.
Indian Coast Guard also responded to stranded fishing vessels along the coast.
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