Staff Return to North Sea Vessel After Security Alert

LONDON Feb. 10, 08 (Dow Jones Newswire)

The evacuation of a North Sea oil platform has been halted and workers are returning to the site, the platform's operator confirmed Sunday.

Britannia Operator Ltd. - a joint venture between ConocoPhillips (COP) and Chevron (CVX) - evacuated staff from an accommodation platform in its Britannia field earlier Sunday following allegations by a worker that there was a possible suspicious device on board.

"A thorough search of the SAFE Scandinavia has revealed nothing suspicious and it has now been deemed safe for workers to return to normal operations," a statement from Britannia Operator said.

A 23-year-old woman is being taken onshore for questioning following the alert, police said.

The 161 workers who were flown to the neighboring Alba and Armada platforms are now returning the SAFE Scandinavia, Britannia Operator said.

The Britannia platform remains shut down, the operator added, but said normal operations will be restarted "as soon as possible."

Grampian Police force inspector Ian Swan said the incident was "isolated and one-off" and said it "will end up as relatively minor matter."

He couldn't confirm whether or not the alert was a hoax.

"We need to investigate what actually happened on the rig this morning," he said. "The reaction to it treated it as a potentially serious and genuine incident, but as time has gone on, the decision has been that it is not as serious as initially thought."

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