51 Trouble At The Drill
Rickie turned the two-way radio volume back up and keyed the mike.
"Anyone out there, this is CEO Rick Ahmad. Any level one supervisors, please respond."
The jumble of voices quieted down except for two individuals. Swiftly, Rickie established the location and circumstances of most of the platform employees.
He thought about the most likely place to seriously damage the apparatus and set back, for a long time if not forever, the production capabilities of this location. The Deepwater Horizon crude oil platform, in North America's Gulf of Mexico, was forever sealed as the result of an accident. The South China Sea held a vast and unique biodiversity, with over 3400 varieties of fish alone, and the ecological threat was just as real as the economic one.
Rickie had a hunch that any explosive device would probably be somewhere near the marine riser. Attached to the blowout preventer, it housed the main drillbit and drillstring. A strong enough explosive could not only damage the drill and the tower itself, it had the potential to damage the blowout preventer and contaminate the freshwater aquifer currently protected by multiple layers of steel casing and cement.
Via the radio, Rickie sent a small group of experienced crew members and their gang boss to the lower levels of the tower to inspect the drill for explosives or anything unusual. For everyone else, he arranged to meet up at an area a short distance away from the Control Room. There were several people unaccounted for, however, and no one had seen John since supper, when Ani came into the mess hall and forced them all to stay there.
The cool night air playfully ruffled Rickie's hair, but there was nothing amusing about the situation.
At least two armed extremists were on his rig, and help was still some time out.
After locking the Control Room door with a set of keys he conveniently found on a nail on the wall, he silently made his way to the rendezvous point, hoping the rescue teams arrived soon.
In the designated room, the group of men huddled together, as if drawing comfort from each other. Rickie entered the room and received several back slaps as the crew acknowledged his presence. His radio made a squawk.
"Drill team to En Ahmad, over."
Rickie immediately answered. "Did you find anything?" He held his breath.
"Yes, En Ahmad, there some type of box right at the marine tensioner coupling."
Rickie cursed; this was bad news.
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The marine tensioner provides a near constant force to maintain the stability of the riser with the drill platform. Within the riser itself, power and control lines to the subsea blowout preventer, as well as high pressure choke and kill lines for the drill itself are located.
Damage to the riser could also cause a devastating cascade effect on both the platform above the waterline, and at the seafloor itself.
Rickie thought for a moment, and keyed the mike. "Don't touch anything; I'm heading towards you now." He nodded to the other in the room, hooked the radio on his belt, and peeked out the window before opening the door and stepping outside the room.
A detached, yet amused voice came over the radio just as he shut the door behind him.
"Mr. Ahmad, I hope you enjoy our little present; be warned, there is nothing you can do to disarm it."