Oil and gas operators in the North Sea have committed to fund a search and rescue helicopter service which will replace an aircraft based at Sumburgh Airport.
The move by Bond Offshore Helicopters to operate the new service will help ensure existing rescue and recovery standards are maintained following the decommissioning of BP’s Miller platform. That decommissioning is heralding the end of the Jigsaw helicopter that has provided additional rescue and response cover to the central North Sea on a goodwill basis.
Chief executive of Oil & Gas UK, Malcolm Webb, said: “Jigsaw has been an excellent service that has benefited many in the Central North Sea over the years. However the removal of the Miller platform means that service was not sustainable.
“Furthermore changes to national SAR [search and rescue] provision mean that the two-hour time set down by industry for rescue and recovery cannot be guaranteed in certain parts of the central North Sea. Accordingly, the operators of various fields in the Central North Sea worked together and with Oil & Gas UK to find a solution. This industry-funded search and rescue helicopter service will maintain the rescue and recovery capability we demand for our offshore workforce.”
The participating companies have awarded Bond Offshore Helicopters a £60 million contract over five years to deliver the service which will operate out of Aberdeen and provide rescue and recovery and medivac cover for offshore workers.
Bond Offshore Helicopter’s managing director, Steve Griffiths added: “Our search and rescue teams have been providing a life-saving service with specialist helicopters for almost a decade. Today’s announcement ensures the men and women working offshore in the central North Sea will continue to receive world-class search and rescue support.”
The industry-funded SAR helicopter and the dedicated back-up aircraft will be based at Bond Offshore Helicopters HQ at Aberdeen International Airport and cover a radius of around 160 nautical miles.