Crisis Averted as Oil Rig Decommissioning Goes Bad

A crane removed the topsides, and it began to swing out of control, leaving the workers exposed.

On July 5, 2021, three workers were nearly crushed by a 200-metric-ton platform when things went bad while dismantling an oil rig off the coast of Western Australia.

The technicians were working on a decommissioned Santos oil rig when a crane removed the topsides, and it began to swing out of control, leaving the workers exposed, clinging to the steel column below. 

According to a report and video from Boiling Cold, workers were to remove the platform in two steps. First, they would use a flame cutter to cut through part of the steel column, caisson, and then a crane would hold the weight of the topsides while the crew cut through the rest of the column.

A video taken aboard the Allseas Fortitude, the multipurpose offshore construction vessel that housed the crane lifting the topsides, shows the technicians stranded on the column as the crane operator tries to gain control of the swinging 440,925-pound topsides. 

According to the Daily Mail, the crisis was likely averted because the crane driver moved the platform as far away from the workers as possible. However, the maneuver still left those on the boat and the technicians exposed to falling debris. Luckily, everyone made it out alive. 

Santos has 17 more structures set to be decommissioned in the next five years; let's hope it goes a little smoother. The company acquired the platforms in 2018, and they had been idled since 2006. They were built by Apache, a U.S. energy company, back in 1993.  

Santos contracted Dutch company Fugro, which hired Allseas to provide the construction vessel as well as an AUS Group Industrial Services subsidiary for rope access technicians.

The incident is currently under investigation by local authorities. As a result, Santos has to hold off on future lifts until the review is complete. The company is cooperating with the investigation. 

Santos is one of the largest domestic gas producers in the area.


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