AWU Urges Workers Not to Return to Stena Clyde Rig Offshore Bass Strait

The Australian Workers Union (AWU) said in an interview with Rigzone Friday that it is advising its members not to return to work on the Stena Clyde (mid-water semisub) drilling unit until the union is satisfied with the investigation and subsequent measures that will be taken to improve safety standards.

The comments made by the AWU are in relation to an accident which occurred on Monday, on a gas drilling rig – the Stena Clyde – sited 31 miles (50 kilometers) offshore Port Campbell in the Bass Strait. The rig was operating under lease to Australia's Origin Energy when an accident on the drill floor killed two men at about 9:15 a.m. (AEST).

The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environment Management Authority (NOPSEMA) spoke with Rigzone on Friday and confirmed that it has started an independent investigation into the two deaths that occurred on the Stena Clyde on Monday. Origin and Stena Drilling are cooperating with NOPSEMA on its independent investigation works.

"There is still a great deal to be done by the offshore regulator (NOPSEMA) to see that standards are maintained and improved," AWU Victorian secretary Cesar Melhem said in a statement on Tuesday. Melhem added that the AWU Victorian branch is seeking a formal role in investigations that are already underway.

Commenting on its stand on the incident, the AWU told Rigzone on Friday that "safety is the number one priority for the union, and that the lives of workers take precedence over everything." 

AWU was understood to have had already informed its members associated with the rig's accident through letters. The union declined to disclose how many of its members are directly or indirectly involved in the accident. 

Records held by NOPSEMA show the Stena Clyde, built in 1976, had been involved in two incidents in Australian waters in recent years. In October 2010, an operator's hand was caught between piping, NOPSEMA said in an offshore health and safety report published on December 31, 2011. In September 2008, it suffered an equipment failure, NOPSEMA said in an offshore health and safety report published on June 2010.



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