Oil & Gas UK targets testing for all offshore workers

May 4, 2020
Oil & Gas UK is assessing the implications of coronavirus testing of personnel working in UK waters from five different angles.

Offshore staff

ABERDEEN, UKOil & Gas UK (OGUK) is assessing the implications of coronavirus testing of personnel working in UK waters from five different angles.

This follows the UK government’s expansion of testing capabilities across Britain above 100,000 tests per day. The priority remains testing of frontline workers in the health service, although OGUK has been stressing that offshore personnel too should be considered critical in terms of safeguarding energy supplies.

Trevor Stapleton, the association’s HSE director, said the five main issues were as follows:

  1. Testing protocols: how should results be interpreted, and what should member companies do if any personnel are shown to be positive
  2. Collecting test data: how will this help the UK offshore sector shape its strategy going forward as Britain comes out of lockdown
  3. National Health Service (NHS) testing provision for offshore workers
  4. Trying to get any potential asymptomatic worker tested via the NHS service three days before the individual is due to mobilize offshore. “If they are positive, they would stay at home,” Stapleton explained, “but if not, they would make that journey to go offshore. We have made representations to the government to test the essential workforce - we think that’s key to trying to increase manning levels and get more projects back up and running.”
  5. A number of UKCS operators are turning to privately-run testing. At present OGUK is not in a position to endorse such services although the Testing Sub-Group is monitoring developments. However, the private alternative may not be needed if the industry can access NHS test facilities, Stapleton said.

OGUK’s Pandemic Steering Group is also examining what measures need to be in place for the industry to move forward in a consistent and robust fashion, he continued. “If we can test all our workforce, we can then look at increasing manning levels and thereby getting the industry back on its feet.”

During the same briefing, another OGUK spokesman pointed out that most of the UK’s offshore supply is currently operating in survival mode. Discussions are taking place on what else could done to drive the recovery. The companies still need financial assistance from the UK government in the short term, the spokesman said, “but what they really need is for work to come into the basin.

“As part of that, we are looking at the role the industry could play in accelerating the UK’s energy transition.”