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At least one oil worker is dead, with another nine missing early on Thursday, after an offshore oil rig operated by Azerbaijan’s state-run oil firm SOCAR, company officials have said.
The accident was caused by 90mph winds, causing a 500-foot walkway and a cabin where workers go to rest to break off from the rest of the rig, collapsing into the Caspian Sea. Ten workers were swept away in the incident.
Winds often reach that speed in the cold season in that area, which is December through February.
Rescuers, were dispatched to search for the missing men. “One body was found and a search-and-rescue operation for nine missing workers is under way," Balamirza Agarakhimov, a deputy head of SOCAR subsidiary Azneft, told Reuters.
The ramp, according to the expert, was built in 1978, and had undergone repairs this summer.
The offshore oil rig has been home to three other accidents in the last two years, in which five oil workers lost their lives, according to Mirvari Qahramanli, director of the Committee to Protect Oil Workers Rights, as reported by RFE/RL.
More than 30 SOCAR workers lost their life last December after another offshore oil platform—Platform 10 at Gunashli field—caught fire during a storm. A more recent fire broke out at SOCAR’s Gunashli at the end of September 2016, although no one was reported injured from that incident.
Oil output, according to Reuters, has not been affected. Azerbaijan is major player in Caspian Sea projects that deliver oil and gas to Georgia and Turkey via pipelines that circumvent Russia.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for US-based Divergente LLC consulting firm, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.