Oil industry workers flown ashore following Covid-19 case

Non-essential staff on an oil industry vessel west of Shetland have been flown ashore following a case of  Covid-19.

Flights from the Aoka Mizu floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel began on Saturday, following the evacuation of a sick crew member last Wednesday.

The vessel is operated by Bluewater Lancaster Production (UK) Ltd on the Lancaster Field, around 61 miles west of Foula on behalf of a subsidiary of Hurricane Energy.

Hurricane stated that the flights were operated using task-specific helicopters in accordance with guidelines by NHS Scotland, Public Health Scotland, Oil & Gas UK and the energy industry’s aviation providers, for the transportation of workers who have been in contact with, or in a close environment with, the person who has contracted the virus.

“Our priority is the safety and wellbeing of our people,” the company said. 

“Bluewater continues to work within guidelines provided by the UK and Scottish governments, NHS and other public health bodies, and Oil and Gas UK related to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, with Hurricane’s support.”

Hurricane stated that the industry had taken steps to reduce the risk of infected people travelling offshore.

“These include self-declaration and medical screening checks prior to attending the heliport,” Hurricane said.

“Any personnel with Covid-19 related symptoms, or who have been in contact with Covid-19 patients, are not being mobilised.

“In common with the rest of the industry, we will continue to work with the relevant authorities to reduce risk to a level as low as reasonably practicable.

“Bluewater, as installation operator, is following the guidance provided by Health Protection Scotland and NHS Scotland, and its onshore medical advisor (Iqarus).

“All appropriate steps are being taken to minimise the risk to personnel offshore, including social distancing, increased cleaning, sanitisation and hand washing, while recognising that the FPSO is an operational vessel.”

The Offshore Co-ordinating Group – a coalition of all oil and gas unions, of which Unite is the largest – is calling for leadership from the industry to deal with the concerns and uncertainty of the situation facing offshore workers.


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