Abandoned oil rig sinking off Ghanaian coast

Cold-stacked oil rig Atwood Sea Hawk has developed a serious list and is in danger of collapse, according to local reports and photos. The rig is situated off the coast of Sekondi/Takoradi in the Western Regiontacked oil rig, Its new owners were said to have abandoned it. The rig was cold stacked in 2012 to await an assignment. The Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) said that it was in the process of securing a court order to assign the abandoned rig to any interested party before it collapses.

The GPHA acknowledged the dangers associated with its collapse but said the court processes had to be completed before it could release the rig to those who had expressed an interest in moving it away for possible decommissioning.

The GPHA was unable to give a definite date for the completion of the court process and its movement from its anchorage.

The port authorities were said to be making “frantic” efforts to find the new owner of the old rig. It is currently an obstruction to vessel navigation and occupies the anchorage without any economic benefits to the Port of Takoradi.

Almost all items on the upper deck, including metals, batteries and air conditioners, etc, have been stolen by thieves who use canoes to invade the platform at night. The fear is that the rig has toxic residual waste streams from previous offshore operations that may be hazardous to the environment.

If nothing is done to avert its collapse the chemicals on the rig might seriously impact the environment, affecting aquatic life along the coast of Sekondi/Takoradi and beyond.

The original owners, Atwood Hunter, were charged $65,000 a month by the GPHA for anchoring the rig in Sekondi/Takoradi. The new owner was supposed to move the rig to Brazil. Agents in Ghana, Macro-Shipping, negotiated the reduction of the monthly charge from $65,000 to $35,000 a month because the rig was not going to be in the country for much longer .

Local newspaper The Daily Graphic reported that the new owners had absconded and left about $1m in debt.

The agent who was meant to be responsible for the costs of crewing up, inspection, security and maintenance, deferred any action due to non-payment by the owner. Macro Shipping CEO Roland Azalimah acknowledged the problem and the state of the rig. However, he said since the contract had been abrogated, they could not trace the new owners to honour their financial obligations.

He said that, after the rig was sold, some officers of the new owners came to the country to carry out repair work and also a tugboat was contracted to tow the rig after repairs and refurbishment. However, “those who were working on the rig left unceremoniously without informing us, left a huge debt that is yet to be settled and the tugboat also left at the anchorage. “At the moment, we are also looking for them to retrieve our monies and that of the port authorities,” Azalimah said.

Public Affairs/Marketing Manager of the GPHA, Peter Bediako, said that the authorities at the Port of Takoradi had referred the case to their legal team to see how best to handle the situation.

The Sea Hawk looked to be uneconomic to restore to active service, so the main problem now is finding someone to pay for its decommissioning.