OFFICIALS plan to refloat the oil rig grounded in the Western Isles tonight.

The attempt to move the giant semi-submersible Transocean Winner will take place two weeks to the day it was blown ashore on Lewis in severe weather.

The towline between the rig and its tug was lost en route from Norway to Malta amid high winds and heavy seas and the installation grounded on the western side of Lewis, sparking pollution fears over its fuel tanks.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said: “The rig will be towed to Broad Bay on Lewis and will remain there until it is in a stable and fit condition to be towed or transported to a suitable repair facility.”

Hugh Shaw, the secretary of state’s representative for maritime salvage and intervention, who is overseeing the operation, said refloat plans were in place, “Good progress is being made in this operation. Plans for the refloat are dependent on the salvage team being able to recover enough buoyancy to enable the rig to refloat safely”.

The Western Isles Emergency Planning Co-ordinating Group is due to discuss plans to enable people to visit and view the rig refloat safely and will issue information today.

The rig grounded with 280 tonnes of diesel on board. Two of its four fuel tanks were damaged, resulting in the loss of up to 53,000 litres of fuel, most of which is thought to have evaporated.

The remaining 200 tonnes of hydrocarbons were transferred to a supply vessel and no pollution has been reported, according to the MCA. An investigation has been launched.