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Tuesday, August 22, 2006 · Last updated 3:42 a.m. PT
Romanian oil rig comes under Iranian fire
By ALISON MUTLER
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
BUCHAREST, Romania -- A Romanian oil rig off the coast of Iran came under fire Tuesday from an Iranian military warship and was later occupied by Iranian troops, a company spokesman said.
The Iranians first fired into the air and then fired at the Orizont rig, said GSP spokesman Radu Petrescu. Half an hour later, troops from the ship boarded and occupied the rig and the company lost contact with the 26 crew members shortly afterward.
Petrescu said he had no information about any injuries or deaths. The Orizont rig has been moored near Kish island in the Persian Gulf since October 2005, he told the Associated Press.
Eugen Chira, the political consul at the Romanian Embassy in Tehran, confirmed the incident, but provided few details. "Some forces opened fire. That an incident has happened is true. We have no details or the reason yet," he said.
GSP, also known as the Oil Services Group, is a private Romanian company established in 2004 which operates six offshore rigs that it bought from Romania's largest oil company, Petrom.
Two of its rigs are operating near the Iranian coast in the Persian Gulf as part of a deal signed between Petrom, GSP and Dubai-based Oriental Oil Co.
The Romanian company was in Iranian courts earlier this year over a dispute involving another one of its oil rigs, Fortuna, the financial weekly Saptamana Financiara has reported. It was unclear whether Tuesday's incident was related to legal issues.
The Orizont rig was built in 1987 and weighs 13,000 tons.
Kish, in the southern end of the Persian Gulf, houses the offices of about 100 Iranian and foreign oil companies.
Romanian firm hotly disputes Petroiran's claim
By Stanley Carvalho, Staff Reporter
Abu Dhabi: A Romanian company, accused by an Iran-owned oil company of hijacking an oil rig on Monday, said it was perfectly within its rights to move the rig to Sharjah.
The company said it had filed a criminal case against Petroiran Oil Company.
"We had permission from Iranian authorities to move the rig out because we completed our contract in April. It is wrong on the part of Petroiran to accuse us of hijacking the rig," Gabriel Comanescu, president of Grup Servicii Petroliere (GSP) told Gulf News.
"The rig had some technical problems and it needed 'annual class' certification by Germanishcer Lloyd," he said. "It has been brought to the anchorage area, three miles off Sharjah."
Comanescu said the company also secured clearances to enter the UAE.
"We have no problems with the UAE because we are moving here legally," he said. "Petroiran Oil Company has no legal right to urge any one for the return of the Fortuna rig."
State-owned Petroiran on Tuesday urged the UAE to help return the offshore drilling rig and prevent it from entering the UAE, according to AFP. Petroiran did not respond to queries posed by Gulf News.
Comanescu said his company filed the case against Petroiran in a government court in Tehran.
"Our company, GSP, officially signed a contract with Oriental Oil Company Dubai, but the Fortuna rig was rented by Oriental Oil Kish. We have a letter from the Dubai Chamber that Oriental Oil Company Dubai has not been registered in Dubai. This means the contract is illegal, so we have filed a case."
Comanescu also claimed Petroiran was still illegally in possession of yet another GSP rig, Orizont, which has 25 Romanian and 10 Indian crew on board. "As per the Kish island court order, we have permission to take Orizont but Petroiran is not allowing us."
Analysts said this looked like a rare case and much depends on the conditions of the charter party.
"It is the first time we are hearing of a rig-related case. Provided the conditions of the charter party were complied with, the rig owner is entitled to take it away on expiry of the contract and the Iranians would have little comeback on this," said Frank Kennedy, a maritime consultant in Dubai.
"But if the charter conditions were not complied with, then there will be repercussions," Kennedy said. "We don't know the clauses of the contract and cannot comment further."
Another Dubai analyst said due to political risks many companies were unwilling to extend contracts with Iranian companies.
"I think there are few international rigs operational in Iran despite the many tenders coming out," the analyst said.