Murder on rig: Criminal inquiry into death of British worker off Qatar ongoing

Following an incident on an oil rig in the Persian Gulf, Qatari authorities have opened a criminal investigation to uncover the mystery surrounding the events, which led to the murder of one of the offshore workers and the attack on another.

Seafox Burj rig; Source: Seafox

The incident, which was reported to have taken place on Monday, 12 December 2022, involved three British nationals, who were working for the Ellon-based Film-Ocean, a subsea contractor providing remote operated vehicle (ROV) services for Qatar’s North Oil Company (NOC), at the time this tragic event occurred.

During the incident, which happened on the Seafox Burj jack-up rig at the Al-Shaheen oil field around 50 miles north of Doha, one of these workers was bludgeoned to death while another one was injured. The third British national is suspected of committing both crimes. Aberdeen Live reported that an official from Qatar’s Ministry of Interior confirmed the third person was detained as part of a criminal investigation. All three workers are believed to be from Scotland.

The news media outlet also said that an official from Qatar’s Ministry of Interior explained: “Law enforcement authorities are investigating a December 12 incident at an offshore facility. The incident involved three British nationals working for a contractor company. One individual sustained fatal injuries, another was hospitalised and released. A third individual has been detained as part of a criminal investigation by the relevant authorities.”

Murder on rig: Criminal inquiry into death of British worker on jack-up unit off Qatar ongoing
Seafox Burj rig; Source: Seafox

While there are no confirmed details about the circumstances surrounding these events, based on the media reports, the dead worker’s body was allegedly discovered in a cabin with fatal injuries and wrapped in a bed sheet in the bathroom. On the other hand, the second worker suffered an injury after being hit in the head.

After Offshore Energy reached out to Film-Ocean for a comment regarding the incident, a spokesperson for the company underscored: “Film-Ocean Ltd can regretfully confirm one person has been fatally wounded and another has been injured following a non-work related incident on an offshore installation off Qatar. A third person has been taken into police custody and is assisting Qatari authorities with their inquiries.

“The injured worker received treatment in hospital in Qatar, but has since been released. The next of kin of those involved have been informed, and the company is working to ensure they receive the appropriate support. All three personnel were contracted to Film-Ocean and were working on the platform at the time of the incident, which was reported around 01:40 hrs Arabia Standard Time on Monday, December 12.”

The spokesperson further highlighted that the firm was “liaising with the Foreign and Commonwealth and Development Office, as well as other stakeholders, to establish the full circumstances surrounding the incident. The company will be making no further statement at this time, and the families of those involved have requested that their privacy is respected.”

Robert Robson and his partner, Kristie Graham
Robert Robson and his partner, Kristie Graham

Following inquiries, it was confirmed that the British national, who died on the oil rig off the coast of Qatar, was 38-year-old Robert Robson, of Tyne and Wear.

Robson’s family made the following statement: “Robbie was an amazing, one-of-a-kind, beautiful soul. He was a loving partner, dad, son, brother and uncle who was tragically taken too soon. He was an irreplaceable friend to many, and Robbie will be sorely missed by everyone that knew him. As a family, we request privacy at this time.”

If the British national, who is currently in police custody, is found guilty of these crimes, the death penalty is likely to be on the cards, as Qatar has the death penalty by firing squad or hanging for crimes such as murder, rape, drug trafficking, treason, terrorism, and espionage. In the meantime, those under sentence of death are held at Central Prison in Doha.

Offshore Energy has also contacted Seafox and Qatar’s Ministry of Interior for comment regarding the incident on the Seafox Burj rig, thus, this article will be updated if a response is received.

The 1972-built Seafox Burj rig was converted in 2012 by Lamprell in Sharjah, UAE. The rig has a maximum water depth operating capability of 350 feet and three cranes, with a maximum lift capacity of 200 MT.

This article was updated on 16 December 2022 with a statement from the family of the British national, who died on the Seafox Burj rig.

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