x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Damaged oil rig to remain closed pending safety evaluation

The oil field closed down after seven contractors died in a helicopter crash will not resume operating until safety tests are carried out.

DUBAI // The oil field closed down after seven contractors died in a helicopter crash will not resume operating until safety tests are carried out on the damaged rig. The Rashid oil field, one of four in Dubai, stopped production after the helicopter smashed into an oil rig on Wednesday, killing passengers and crew. Petrofac, the oil company managing the site, said yesterday it was not clear how soon work could resume. A spokesman said: "We have reopened the field to staff and the rig has been made secure, but it has not started producing oil again yet.

"We do not know how long it will be. There are a number of operations that have to be gone through and while it has been made secure, there was a collision involving a helicopter and a fire on the rig. "There are a number of checks that need to be done." The firm refused to say how much it had cost to shut down operations or the numbers of oil rig workers affected. The Rashid oil field, together with Fateh, southwest Fateh and Falah fields - which are all controlled by Dubai Petroleum - are responsible for the entire oil output of Dubai.

The UAE is the world's fifth largest exporter of oil, but Dubai only produces a fraction of the nation's total. Dubai pumped about 65,000 barrels a day last year compared to the national output of about 2.5 million barrels a day. Jeffrey King, of Platts, a specialist oil news agency, said the closure of one field in Dubai would not disrupt general production. He said: "Opec produces 30m barrels of crude oil per day, so the fact fewer than 100,000 barrels have been stopped does not make much of a difference."

The families of the seven victims - a British pilot, Venezuelan co-pilot, two Indian passengers, a Pakistani, a Filipino and an American - are still waiting for answers about how they died. Some were yesterday preparing to fly to Dubai to bring home the bodies of their loved ones. They included the widow of Diosdado Buhangin, the 48-year-old Filipino oil technician, and Savio Pereira, the brother of Julias Pereira, one of the two Indians.

Dubai Petroleum has yet to confirm any of the names of the victims, although some have already been released by relatives. Dubai Police said there was an ongoing inquiry into the incident. tyaqoob@thenational.ae