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Setback for the Bonga.

Hopes of seeing the giant vessel Bonga sail down the Tyne were today dashed by bad weather.

The departure has already been delayed this week and if it is cancelled again tomorrow then shipwatchers will have to wait weeks to say farewell.

The huge Shell oil platform was due to begin its six-week journey to Nigeria from Amec's Wallsend yard this morning.

An Amec spokesman said: "The forecast is not suitable for a Saturday morning sail-away of Bonga. The next opportunity for is late Sunday morning." If the Bonga doesn't leave by Monday it means it will stay until at least October 17.

Shell spokeswoman Bianca Ruakeri said: "Because of the Bonga's size we need the tides and current conditions to be absolutely perfect and then the weather conditions and visibility must be favourable in the North Sea."

She said the delay will not cause the energy giant any concern as there are no deadlines for when the Bonga must go into production.

Five-hundred skilled Tyneside shipyard workers have equipped the 300-metre vessel with a 17,000 tonne processing plant in a contract worth pounds 300 million.

Following the completion of the order many of these workers were made redundant by Amec as the company continued its search for more major orders.

For more information about possible Bonga departure times call (0191) 295 8711.
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 4, 2003
Words:224
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