During the first winter storms: Gas platform in the Adriatic Sea off Pula disappeared without a trace – what threatens the environment?

Adriatic: Gas platform Ivana D disappeared
A gas platform like this cannot simply disappear from the scene. What happened? Methane leakage? Questions, to which hopefully there will be an answer soon

That certain things such as the famous socks in the washing machine or the car keys simply disappear, that is something we have long since come to terms with. But the Croatian petroleum company INA currently has a much bigger problem: The INA is one of four unmanned gas platforms, the “Ivana D”, which is used to drill for gas in the Adriatic Sea 50 kilometers northwest of Pula. To put it bluntly: As has now been confirmed by the INA, the gas platform has disappeared without a trace from the ground or the surface of the water since Saturday afternoon and has not reappeared at least until Tuesday evening. However, this is not to be expected.

Jugo obstructs search operation

First, as reported by Croatian media with reference to an INA spokesperson, the connection to the gas platform was interrupted, and then it was no longer visible to the naked eye. Due to bad weather conditions – at the time of the disappearance and also in the days afterwards, as SeaHelp reported, strong Yugo. Due to the obstruction of visibility by rain, strong winds and high swell, no search operation for the “lost” gas platform could be started yet.

Was corrosion the cause ?

The Croatian media quotes a former Croatian Minister of Economy who had already spoken out against gas production in the Adriatic in the past. He argued that the gas platform is now 30 years old, and the steel used is of course potentially susceptible to corrosion, depending on the level of maintenance. At the same time he reminded of the accident on the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico. On this platform, however, drilling was done for oil and not for gas.

Is the borehole sealed ?

However, one question remains: Has the technology of the gas platform still been able to carry out the automatic sealing of the borehole, as is mandatory in such cases, or is gas now escaping unhindered?

Methane leakage endangers the climate

Uncontrolled emissions of natural gas from a borehole generally release immense quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas that has an extremely strong greenhouse gas effect in the atmosphere. Seen over a period of 20 years, one kilogram of methane is between 84 and 92 times as harmful as one kilogram of carbon dioxide and, according to current knowledge, methane accounts for around 20 % of the greenhouse effect caused by humans.

cause still completely unexplained

However, the gas platform “Ivana D” off Pula has disappeared and immediate action could not be taken due to the bad weather conditions in the Adriatic Sea, especially off Istria. Whether or not strong winds in combination with high swell and possible corrosion can ultimately be held responsible for the disappearance remains open until the causes are finally clarified.

Many open questions

However, such an incident raises further questions: Can a country like Croatia, which is dependent on tourism, afford to drill for fossil fuels off the coast? How effective are the measures to effectively contain such incidents, if they happen, as soon as possible? What actually happens when an oil tanker runs aground off the Croatian coast and loses part of its cargo?

Can environmental damage be prevented ?

Ultimately, the only hope that remains is that those responsible will learn their lessons from the “loss” of the gas platform and prevent any environmental damage caused by possible methane leakage as quickly as possible.

gas platform Ivana D

According to the company that built the Ivana D gas drilling platform in 2000, the 332-tonne structure with a height of 65.5 meters is expected to have a 20-year life span.

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