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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 March 2006, 14:27 GMT
Fire alert on North Sea platform
Tern Alpha platform
The fire broke out on the Shell's Tern Alpha platform
Almost 130 workers have been taken off a North Sea oil platform after an electrical fire, coastguards said.

Aberdeen Coastguard said it had transferred "non-essential" personnel from the Tern Alpha platform more than 100 miles off Shetland.

Four helicopters were involved in the operation along with an RAF Nimrod.

Shell said all the workers would be flown back to the platform on Thursday afternoon. Production will remain shut down while investigations continue.

The fire broke out in a gas generator on the Shell platform at about 0045 GMT on Thursday. It is believed a high voltage electrical motor overheated.

A total of 65 people remained on board the platform. Shell said all workers had been accounted for.

No injuries

A coastguard spokesman said the fire had now been extinguished and there were no injuries.

The location of the platform was given as 107 miles north-east of Sumburgh, Shetland.

Anne Young, of Aberdeen Coastguard, said: "It was a very busy operation but it went very smoothly.

"We requested assistance from four helicopters from various associations and countries."

She added that as well as the coastguard, RAF and BP helicopters, a Norwegian helicopter assisted.

Loud bang

Jake Molloy, of the OILC union, said workers sleeping on the platform said they were wakened by a loud bang.

He said: "They believe it came from the gas compression module and that thereafter there was a subsequent fire.

"But when they lost power various sprinkler systems in different parts of the instillation were firing off and causing a bit of confusion about the extent of the fire."

A Shell spokeswoman said the police and Health and Safety Executive had been informed of the incident, adding that some of the evacuated workers had been transferred to the company's North Cormorant platform.

See footage of the platform rescue operation

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