LONDON -- Helicopter flights to and from UK offshore oil and gas installations resumed this morning across much of the UK shelf, according to industry association Oil & Gas UK.
However, helicopter operators continue to monitor weather reports concerning the path of volcanic ash clouds from Iceland. They will revise their flight plans and re-suspend operations if atmospheric conditions take a turn for the worse.
Malcolm Webb, chief executive of Oil & Gas UK, said: “The safety of the industry’s offshore workforce and helicopter crews must come first and we will fly only when the helicopter operators say that it is safe to do so. However, this is a changing situation and should helicopters not be able to fly, we need to find alternative ways to bring workers home and send new crews offshore to replace them.”
One course of action involves using vessels to transfer personnel offshore and back. At Oil & Gas UK’s request, Britain’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency has lifted restrictions on the number of passengers that can be transported on board cargo vessels.
Under normal circumstances, a maximum of 12 persons would be allowed as passengers on a cargo vessel, whatever the vessel’s capacity. But due to the exceptional circumstances, the agency has agreed to grant an exemption to this rule.
Transfers from offshore installations will be done in accordance with HSE guidance to ensure the safety of all on board. Risk assessments will be performed in all cases where appropriate.
Oil & Gas UK says it is monitoring progress in boat transfer and liaising with its member companies to facilitate sharing of boats by operators if required. A workgroup has also been formed to address situations where an offshore installation cannot transfer crews by boat.