Romanian oil company claims Iran has seized one of its rigs

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

An Orizont oil platform in the Persian Gulf, owned by the Grup Servicii Petroliere (GSP) of Romania, has allegedly been boarded by Iranian troops after being fired at by a helicopter. Romanian officials have not "heard anything" from the workers on the platform "since then [the attack].", according to a company statement. The Iranian news agency IRNA claims that the personnel who boarded the platform were not "troops" but "police".

"We were called by one of our employees at 9.15 a.m. local time (0615 GMT), who told us a military helicopter opened fire against the Orizont rig, and by 9.45 Iranian troops got on board. Since then, we haven't heard anything from them," said Radu Petrescu, a spokesman for Servicii Petroliere.

According to a representative of GSP, Lulu Tabanesku, "Iranian [troops] used machine guns" and Iran is "in control of the rig. We cannot contact the rig." There were at least 26 workers on the 13,000-ton platform when it came under fire. There is no word on whether there are any casualties.

The Foreign Minister of Romania is scheduled to have a meeting to discuss the attack with Iranian officials on Wednesday, but so far Iran has yet to release an official statement regarding the attack. Romanian president Traian Băsescu was unable to reach Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday, the day of the rig's seizure. August 22 is an Iranian National holiday.

The Romanian company GSP operates the Orizant and Fortuna rigs that are both subjects of a legal dispute with the Oriental Oil Company who rents the oil rights to Petro Iran Development Company (PEDCO), a broker for the National Iranian Oil Company. According to PEDCO, an Iranian court ruling in the contract dispute between the two companies found that both rigs should remain in Iranian waters. GSP moved the Fortuna rig on August 15, claiming the contract was cancelled illegally, Iran accused the Romanians of "hijacking" the platform.