Hutton hull breaks free of tow line

Coastguards in Shetland are monitoring the hull of the decommissioned Hutton tension-leg platform, which broke free from one of its tugs on a journey from Russia to Spain.

The 23,000-tonne hull was en route from Murmansk to Cadiz when a cable from one of two tugs broke free close to Taqa’s North and South Cormorant and Eider platforms on Monday morning. The incident happened about 170 kilometres north-east of Lerwick. A spokesman for Shetland Coastguard said there is massive amount of subsea infrastructure in the area, including pipelines and manifolds, and the situation was being watched closely. However, he said the platform is attached to the remaining tug and there is no cause for alarm while the platform is not moving. He added another tug is moving to the scene and it is hoped North West Hutton will be reconnected this afternoon. The plan is then to move it to Shetland and then onto Invergordon in northern Scotland. It is not known when the journey to Cadiz will continue. The spokesman said the 200-metre tow line could cause damage to equipment on the seabed, which is at a depth of about 130 metres. He said: “There was bad weather and we were warned North West Hutton was approaching the platforms in the area on Sunday evening. “It was decided to hold it in position, then one of the lines broke free (on Monday morning).” A combination of bad weather and the unit’s distance from shore prevented a replacement tug reaching the scene until today. The spokesman added that weather conditions in the area was now “relatively calm”. Wind speeds are 20 to 25 knots with a 3.5 metre swell. United Arab Emirates-based Taqa became operator of the Cormorant and Ida fields, along with Kestrel, Tern and Pelican, on 1 December after buying them from Shell and ExxonMobil. The Hutton TLP topsides will be used on Gazprom’s Prirazlomnoye field, in the Barents Sea.

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