ONGC’s operations at Mumbai High are fraught with numerous challenges, and there have been many accidents at the site in the past
Over the past two days, the Coast Guard and Navy have been engaged in a massive operation to rescue over 700 people from vessels which went adrift during Cyclone Tauktae.
As of Wednesday morning, 637 people have been rescued, and the search is on for 80 more men, according to The Indian Express. Indian Navy Commodore Manoj Jha said on Wednesday that 14 bodies had been recovered from the Arabian Sea.
The vessels that went adrift during the cyclone included one oil rig, four vessels servicing ONGC’s offshore operations, and an unrelated freight ship.
The affected barges were deployed at the Heera platform, the largest of the ONGC rigs on the Mumbai High, which is the largest oil and gas asset of the national energy major in the country. They had been anchored to safety ahead of the cyclone but got drifted and de-anchored due to the gusty winds that made the Arabian Sea violent.
Mumbai High, located off the Mumbai coast, is the largest oil and gas asset of ONGC.
ONGC carries on offshore drilling from platforms in the Arabian Sea. As per a recent media report, the company produces 50,000 barrels of crude per day from the Heera platform. Typically, the staff is taken for offshore drilling operations by air.
ONGC’s operations at Mumbai High are fraught with numerous challenges, and there have been many accidents at the site in the past.
On 13 February this year, a supply vessel caught fire near Mumbai High, leaving one crew member injured. The fire had been reported onboard the ship ‘Rohini’ when it was 92 nautical miles from the Mumbai shores and was near NQO platform of Mumbai High.
An ‘MV Albatross-5’ ship operating in the vicinity of the oilfield in the sea had to pull the affected vessel away from the Mumbai High rigs. Later, the Coast Guard deployed offshore patrol vessel ‘Samarth’ to douse the fire.
On 27 July, 2005, a devastating fire broke out when a vessel collided with one of the four platforms of a rig at Mumbai High, leaving eleven people dead. The platform was destroyed within two hours of the incident, and the property loss was valued at nearly $300 million, as noted by Hindustan Times. The fire had occurred just a day after the devastating 26 July, 2005 floods in Mumbai, in which over 1,000 people died. The deluge had majorly affected rescue operations for the fire as well. As noted by an article in Down to Earth, the ONGC’s helicopters could not be used for rescue work due to the severe flooding in Mumbai.
The fire-hit platform had been producing 100,000 barrels per day of the 260,000 barrels produced by Mumbai High daily at the time.
While the 2005 fire was the biggest mishap at Mumbai High in recent years, there have been several accidents at the site before that too. According to a document by the Coast Guard, the site had seen gas leaks in March and May 1998. Oil spills were also reported at the site on 17 May, 1993 and 14 November 1991.
With inputs from PTI
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