Two Salvage Firms Present Plan To Pump Oil From Tanker Wreck

Tuesday, January 11, 2000
Two Salvage firms - France's Les Abeilles International and Smit Internationale of the Netherlands - have reportedly told French authorities they could start recovering oil from the wreck of the sunken tanker Erika, which went down on Dec. 12 off the Brittany coast, within a matter of days. An estimated 20,000 tons of heavy fuel remain within the tanks of the ship, which broke in two before sinking. The two firms are ready to use a robot system developed by Norwegian pump specialist Frank Mohn and said they see no need to wait for three or four months to begin the operation, as was previously suggested. They said they could begin operations within two weeks if they got the go-ahead from French authorities and Totalfina, charterer of the sunken vessel, which has indicated it is ready to pay for the recovery operation. Other firms are expected to bid for the job, but Les Abeilles and Smit hope to formally present their project to Totalfina and the French authorities in the next few days. No cost was given for the proposed project.

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