New Delhi: A day after a barge deployed for offshore drilling in Bombay High got de-anchored, started drifting and capsized in the sea due to Cyclone Tauktae, 182 Afcon employees have so far been rescued from Bombay High, said sources who spoke to PSU Watch on the condition of anonymity. There were a total of 261 employees of Afcon onboard the barge at the time it capsized, sources added. The people who were onboard barge P305 are employees of Afcon, and not ONGC, contrary to what several news reports are suggesting, said another source who spoke to PSU Watch.
In an official statement released early on Tuesday, ONGC said, "Due to the severe cyclonic storm, unfortunate incidences have occurred involving three construction barges of M/s Afcons working on a project of ONGC in Western Offshore fields in the Arabian Sea and one drilling rig of ONGC deployed for exploration purpose."
Due to combination of cyclone and high sea swell, the anchors of the barges gave away, and the vessels started drifting. Barge Support Station-3 and Barge Gal Constructor of Afcon started drifting in the sea, while the other barge manned by Afcon, P305, de-anchored and capsized in the sea due to the impact of the cyclone. In addition, ONGC Drill Ship 'Sagar Bhushan' deployed for exploration in western offshore, also lost its anchors and started drifting north.
For rescue operation, INS Kochi and INS Kolkata — two ships of Indian Navy and one Tug Boat of Afcons, one OSV (Offshore Supply vessel) of ONGC, Coast Guard vessel 'ICG Samarth' have also been pressed into service. Three more ONGC OSVs and two MSVs (Multipurpose Support Vessel) have been mobilised, said ONGC in a statement.
Cyclone Tauktae hit Arabian Sea off the coast of Mumbai in the early hours of May 17, where ONGC's major production installations and drilling rigs are located. The wind speed rose to nearly150-180 Km/hr with 6 to 8 metre-high waves.
"#ONGC along with @IndianNavy @IndiaCoastGuard extending all help in rescue operations for #Afcons barge P-305 capsized in #CycloneTauktae in ArabianSea," said ONGC in a tweet on Tuesday afternoon.
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