France's Total is using boats to ferry some of its offshore workers to UK North Sea oil and gas installations following the Aug. 23 fatal crash of an AS332-L2 Super Puma helicopter as it was approaching Sumburgh Airport on the Shetland Islands.
The firm is using boats to help get some of its personnel to oil and gas platforms in the North Sea only as an "interim measure", Total E&P Managing Director Philippe Guys confirmed to Rigzone at the Offshore Europe 2013 conference Wednesday afternoon.
A spokesman for Total said the company had chartered four vessels within the last week, with each vessel capable of carrying up to approximately 45 passengers.
Total had already been holding talks with its workforce concerning the reintroduction of the EC225 variant of the Super Puma when the accident involving the AS332-L2 aircraft occurred. Passenger flights involving all variants of Super Puma on the UK Continental Shelf were then immediately grounded for almost a week before the Helicopter Safety Steering Group last Thursday recommended lifting the temporary suspension.
The reintroduction of AS332-L2 variant passenger flights is taking place in a "very measured" way, Step Change in Safety Team Leader Les Linklater told Rigzone last Friday. Linklater also pointed out that the UK oil and gas industry would take a sympathetic approach to any offshore worker who does not want to fly, particularly in the AS332-L2 variant.
The firm's policy towards workers regarding helicopter flights would be in line with this sympathetic approach but it will continue with its workforce engagement regarding the reintroduction of flights using the EC225 variant of Super Puma, Total's spokesman told Rigzone Wednesday.
The use of boats by Total is not seen by the firm as a practical solution in the long term. This is for a variety of reasons, including the safe transfer of personnel from vessels to rigs in rough seas as the industry enters its winter season as well as the lengthy and potentially arduous journey by boat tiring workers before they even get to North Sea installations.
A snapshot survey taken by oilandgaspeople.com in the days following last month's accident revealed that 89 percent of more than 1,000 respondents want Super Pumas taken out of service. Meanwhile, 57 percent believe that other methods to transfer crew should be considered, including the use of boats.
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