Oil rig monitored after losing tow: Transport Canada

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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GSF Grand Banks scheduled to return to Canada after time at U.S. shipyard

According to Transport Canada, the GSF Grand Banks was carefully watched while it spent two days unexpectedly on its own in the North Atlantic late last week.

The GSF Grand Banks, seen here, was being towed out of provincial waters this past week, so as to undergo an assessment and some maintenance in a Mississippi shipyard.

The semi-submersible, used for offshore drilling, was being towed to the United States, but lost

its tow line Wednesday, about

333 kilometres south of Cape Race and 315 kilometres east of Sable Island, N.S.

“Transport Canada, in conjunction with the Canadian Coast Guard, closely monitored the GFS Grand Banks oil rig’s location and status at all times while the tow line was being reconnected to the tug Atlantic Hawk,” a Transport Canada spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

“Transport Canada’s top priority was to ensure that the vessel did not pose a threat to navigation safety, any personnel involved or the marine environment in Canadian waters.”

The tow was not immediately re-established because of the harsh weather and wave height, with waves reported running to seven metres.

The 99 crew members aboard the rig were not in any immediate danger while the rig was without a tow, according to a spokesman for TransOcean, the company that owns the rig.

“After the tow line broke, the crew of the rig used the rig’s thrusters and its own power to navigate during this bad weather,” said spokesman Guy Cantwell.

The GSF Grand Banks was put back under tow at 1:30 a.m. Friday, he said. He did not have the exact co-ordinates immediately available.

The lost tow line received attention after first being reported Friday by Rob Almeida at gCaptain, a site specializing in news of marine vessels and transports.

As of Monday morning, staff at the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board said they were aware of the event. However, while a drilling rig is under tow, it is considered a vessel and the responsibility of Transport Canada.

The GSF Grand Banks is destined for a shipyard in Mississippi, where it will undergo a scheduled assessment and have some equipment replaced before it is towed back to offshore Eastern Canada.

The rig remains under a two-year contract, with the primary contractor being Husky Energy. The contract runs into September 2015.


Organizations: Transport Canada, Canadian Coast Guard, Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board Husky Energy

Geographic location: Canada, United States, Cape Race Sable Island Mississippi

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Recent comments

  • Corporate Psycho
    December 10, 2013 - 21:16

    No immediate danger? Transocean are the company that had the Deepwater horizon disaster and then gave the BOD huge safety bonuses. The CNLOPB will let them investigate themselves and all will be great.

  • david
    December 10, 2013 - 09:56

    "....or the marine environment in Canadian waters." So is it that "directive" that allowed the Orlova to be cut free, with the intention that it would sink somewhere between here and Ireland? Everyone involved still has their employment file and their conscience intact, I guess? Shame.