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Rig still adrift

November 22, 2001, 18:45 CET

Efforts to get a new towline aboard the Byford Dolphin drilling rig, adrift in the Norwegian Sea, will start early tomorrow morning, 23 November, or as soon as the weather permits.

Weather conditions in the Halten Bank area, where the rig lost its tow at 07.30 today, should have improved by then.

Byford Dolphin is still drifting southwards under its own limited engine power. It has passed the Draugen and Njord fields, well clear of their installations.

“The 54 crew on board are all fine,” reports Harald Mortensen, Statoil's drilling superintendent. “They’re sleeping, working and eating normally, and their mood is good.”

There have been snow flurries and high seas in the area today. But weather forecasters say the wind is likely to slacken in the morning hours.

Anchorhandlers Northern Chaser and Pacific Banner are shadowing the rig, and a third ship – Northern Crusader – is due to arrive around midnight. Additional vessels and helicopters are on standby.

Byford Dolphin had 71 people on board when it lost the tow this morning. Seventeen have since flown ashore by helicopter as part of the regular crew change, but no new personnel replaced them.

The rig was on its way to Statoil’s Mikkel field to plug a well.