Iran attacked and seized control of a Romanian oil rig today in the Persian Gulf, one week after the European company Grup Servicii Petroliere (GSP) removed another of its rigs from Iranian waters because of non-payment of fees. An Iranian naval vessel fired on the rig in Iran's offshore Salman field and took control of its radio room at 07:00.
"The Iranians fired at the rig's crane with machine guns," GSP representative Lulu Tabanesku said. "They are in control now and we can't contact the rig." The Romanian company has 26 workers on the platform, he said.
Iran accused GSP last week of "hijacking" a rig from the same Iranian waters where the rig that was attacked today operates. GSP said it moved the rig to UAE waters because its client, Oriental Oil Kish, had not met agreed payment terms.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suspended Oriental Oil's activities in 2005 on charges of "financial corruption" and ties to Halliburton, state news agencies reported last August. The UAE-registered drilling company had signed a preliminary contract with Halliburton after winning an estimated $310 million contract to develop phases 9 and 10 of Iran's offshore South Pars gas reservoir.
Romania has "asked for clarification over the situation of Romanian citizens and their release if they are being held,: the Romanian foreign ministry said. "A note has been sent to the Iranian Foreign Affairs Ministry requesting clarification." However, Romanian President Traian Basescu unsuccessfully attempted to contact Ahmadinejad regarding the seizure of a Romanian oil rig.