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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 November 2005, 03:58 GMT
Workers airlifted from oil barge
Norwegian oil pipelay barge LB200
Pipes are welded on the barge before going down to the sea floor
Some 150 crew have been airlifted to safety after a pipe-laying barge broke loose of tow lines and began drifting near oil platforms in the North Sea.

The barge, carrying 265 people, came loose from tugs 170 miles north-east of Aberdeen on Saturday, before eventually drifting into Norwegian waters.

Twelve helicopters flew non-essential staff to Stavanger, while rescue teams restored tow lines to the 170m-barge.

The barge, operated by Stolt Offshore, is now being towed to land in Norway.

Nils-Ole Sunde, duty controller at the rescue co-ordination centre in Stavanger, said on Sunday: "Overnight the barge was brought clear of two platforms we were concerned about.

"It is now south of the Balder platform and is expected to begin heading to Bergen under tow before daylight."

Stolt Offshore said that following the evacuation, a crew had remained on board the semi-submersible vessel to resume the tow.

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