Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Wandering Oil Rig Mystery

The tug turning the rig just south off Valle Gran Rey yesterday morning
The rig that was reported and viewed passing La Gomera on Sunday is still around... and doing rounds between the islands. This morning it was seen again close to La Gomera and being towed past Valle Gran Rey's southern approach. In the past few days it has been spotted off the coast of southern Tenerife, off La Gomera and it just keeps going around in circles  between the western islands of Tenerife, La Gomera and El Hierro. The 86m tug that's towing the rig is named Pacific Champion, registered in Singapore, built only a couple of years ago in 2011 with a GT of 4566 tons, and its last registered port of call was Las Palmas de Gran Canaria about a month ago. Rumours are doing the rounds (including one that says it is a rig that is to dredge material from the bottom of the sea for the new harbour in Tazacorte on La Palma to replace another dredger that capsized) but personally I think that it is an oil rig which is just waiting for the right weather conditions to be towed across the Atlantic (or to go wherever) after a refit in the docks of Gran Canaria which specialise in that kind of rig-refitting work. It probably won't be looking for oil, gas, nor anything else around the western Canaries, I think. How many more erratic circles until it goes away ? I'm tracking it and will let you know here if there are any interesting developments..., but just a while ago at around midnight it was heading at 3.4 knots (slowly) towards south of La Gomera again from the southern tip of Tenerife. As a neighbour said: ''Maybe they want us to get accustomed to the sight of rigs !?'' - Naw !
Mind you, oil exploration remains the hottest poltical potato in the Canary Islands.

UPDATE 13-03-14, 10pm:
The rig towed by the tug stopped over in Santa Cruz de Tenerife harbour today around noon. The tug Pacific Champion went on to berth in the harbour of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria later tonight - whether with or without the rig is not known to me. Get the spy-glasses out over there! This ends the many loops in the sea of the tandem in the western Canaries for now.

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