Union Concerned Over Crew Safety Aboard FPSO Under Tow
Unite the Union has raised safety concerns for the crew aboard the Foinaven FPSO with continuous strike action set to begin on Friday, August 5.
Norway’s leading offshore trade union slammed Altera, who operates the vessel, for maintaining a ‘wall of silence’ with the Foinaven starting tow to Hunterston Port on Wednesday, August 3. The vessel is expected to reach the port by early next week.
Unite represents around 60 workers who perform several roles including crane operators, electricians, deck crew, and production technicians.
Altera has repeatedly refused to respond to safety concerns raised by Unite specifically over the emergency services provided for the vessel if it comes into distress or if a fire breaks out as the workers will remain on the Foinaven while taking strike action until it reaches Hunterston Port.
A fire on board the Foinaven broke out at the beginning of April and prompted an evacuation of non-essential staff. The incident occurred while preparations were taking place for the vessel’s departure from the station.
“Unite has repeatedly sought assurances that Altera is clear on the actions that our members will be taking during the strike, and the effect this has on the Foinaven during the tow. We have asked Altera if they have contacted its client BP, the towing company Maersk, and all the regulators to ensure that they are also fully aware of the implications due to the strike action.”
We remain deeply concerned for the safety of the crew during the tow, which is likely to involve around 50 people, for the Foinaven itself, the towing vessels, and the wider environment should anything go wrong. Quite literally our members could be stranded at sea for days without any clear safety procedures in place. To date we have faced a wall of silence from Altera over these real concerns which is unacceptable and dangerous," Vic Fraser, Unite industrial officer, said.
In late July, Unite confirmed that 96 percent of its members on board the Foinaven voted for strike action on an 84 percent turnout. The dispute centers on offshore members being given a significantly inferior redundancy package compared with Altera’s onshore workforce.
The Foinaven FPSO vessel is owned by Teekay but operated by Altera staff. The vessel is currently contracted to work for oil and gas giant BP, but it is due to end its contract when it is towed to Hunterston Port. All workers will be made redundant at the end of August as BP ended the contract for the vessel.
The Foinaven field is around 65 miles from the Shetland Isles within the Faroes/Shetland Trough in the Atlantic Ocean. Production from the field was suspended in 2021 due to the field reaching the end of its 25-year design life and after hull integrity issues were noticed on the FPSO. The decommissioning plan was submitted to the UK’s authorities at the beginning of 2022.
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