Is it a bird, is it a plane? No it’s … an “oil rig” …

Copyright: Canarian Life
Copyright: Canarian Life

Update 13 March: As of last evening, the rig has stopped being towed in circles and started making its way up the east coast. It does now seem likely that it was sheltering from the weekend’s temporal,  and that it is now heading for Santa Cruz for what appears to have been planned maintenance work.

Original post 9 March: Probably not many people expected to see an oil rig just off the coast of south west Tenerife, but that’s exactly what has been seen over the last several days. The top photo above is from Canarian Life, and explanations have ranged from the amusing (it’s a carnaval “float”), to the sensible (it’s on its way to the eastern islands for Repsol to start explorations), to the logical (there’s a storm coming and it’s sheltering leewards) … but no-one really knows. In the absence of all official explanations, rumour is all we have, but one thing is for sure: this thing is describing an almost perfectly boat-shaped rectangle between Tenerife and La Gomera, and has been doing so for days.

The second image above comes from (click on the little turquoise boat and then select “show vessel’s track”).  Let’s just hope that the more “conspiratorial” explanations (they’re about to start soundings for oil released from the El Hierro eruption) are no more than pie in the sky … or rig in the sea …


  1. I think it is Soria’s answer to Ashotel.

  2. The platform is is a gas /oil rig that is being towed round the Canary Islands for exploratory purposes.

  3. I think it’s on its way to South Africa

  4. Author

    Yes, I should perhaps have linked to THIS previous story about the oil exploration programme being planned off the eastern islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura.

  5. This type of oil rig is for drilling for oil after a seismic survey has previously carried out . it is not used for exploration purposes. these siesmic surveys are carried out by a ship towing a siesmic array which map out the terrain below the sea bed. when they get an indication that oil may be present , then they bring in the drilling rig to see if there is actually oil there in commercial quantitities . quite why this thing is meandering around is a bit of a mystery .maybe the master has had one drink too many !

  6. I also saw the rig on a recent visit (holiday). I think it may be the Diamond Offshore owned “Ocean Confidence” which is due to be in the Canary Islands for maintenance work from Mid March 14 – mid January 15.

    It had been scheduled to drill one well in the Cameroon by operator Murphy mid Feb- Mid Mar 14.

    All information is taken from the Diamond Offshore website.

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