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North Sea companies fined for rig explosion

THE TWO MAJOR North Sea oil companies involved in the explosion and fire aboard a drilling rig five years ago, which resulted in one man being killed, received substantial fines yesterday, writes James Cusick.

The pounds 250,000 fine against Arco, the drilling firm operating the Ocean Odyssey rig, is the highest imposed on an oil firm since North Sea production began 30 years ago.

The case at Aberdeen High Court made Scottish legal history. It is the first time any oil company has been indicted in a Scottish High Court over an offshore accident. The owner of the Ocean Odyssey rig, Odeco, was fined pounds 25,000. Both companies pleaded guilty to safety charges.

In September 1988, the rig blew up and was engulfed in flames killing a radio operator, Timothy Williams, on his first trip offshore. There were 66 survivors.