Operators hold joint talks after North Sea air crash

chc helicopters27 August 2013, News Wires – Eighty representatives of UK operators and contractors have held talks in Aberdeen in the wake of Friday’s helicopter crash in which four workers were killed.

The Oil & Gas UK talks opened with an expression of profound sadness over the tragedy.

Three men and a woman were killed when a CHC Helicopter-operated Eurocopter Super Puma AS332 L2 aircraft was forced to ditch west of the Shetland Islands on Friday evening.

Duncan Munro (46) from Bishop Auckland, Sarah Darnley (45) from Elgin, Gary McCrossan (59) from Inverness and George Allison (57) from Winchester all died in the crash.

Twelve other passengers and two crew were rescued from the helicopter, which had been taking workers from the Borgsten Dolphin semi-submersible drilling unit to Shetland’s Sumburgh airport.

The Fred. Olsen Energy-owned drilling unit is being operated by Dolphin Drilling on behalf of Total at the French explorer’s Dunbar oil field.

The UK fleet of Super Puma helicopters have been grounded in the wake of the tragedy, with the exception of search and rescue flights.

Monday’s talks focused on how operators can co-operate to help minimise the impact of the flight suspensions on offshore staff and their families.

Oil & Gas UK chief executive Malcolm Webb said operators had endorsed Saturday’srecommendation by the Helicopter Safety Steering Group that each model of Super Puma helicopter should only be allowed to resume flights when “sufficient factual information to support this decision becomes available”.

Webb said that the talks had also seen the industry “set in train appropriate actions to address the operational consequences of the current situation”, pointing out that the Super Puma fleet represented more than half the helicopter capacity of the UK North Sea.

“The immediate knock-on effects of this are delays and flight backlogs with considerable inconvenience to the workforce and their families, and potential adverse effects on offshore activities,” he said.

“Individual operators have contingency plans in place for when flights are suspended due to bad weather for example, but preparing for a wider or potentially longer-term issue will require industry-wide collaboration,” he added.

The operators and associated task forces are to meet again a number of times over the coming days and weeks, Oil & Gas UK said.

– Upstream

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