More than 100 workers evacuated from a North Sea oil platform in an emergency operation involving British and Norwegian helicopters are being flown home, the oil company owners have confirmed
A total of 115 personnel were flown off EnQuest’s Thistle platform, about 125 miles (201km) north-east of Shetland, in what was described as a precautionary move on Monday evening.
The platform is to remain closed down until further inspections are carried out and any remedial action needed is completed.
The workers were transferred to the nearby Dunlin Alpha platform by a coastguard helicopter and two from the Norwegian offshore sector.
"Quite a significant event"
The company said it ordered the evacuation following a subsea structural inspection.
Jake Molloy, general secretary of the RMT union, said this suggested “quite a significant event.”
Earlier he said “for structural integrity reasons this is only the second time I can remember (shutting down a platform) in 40 years. The last one was Ninian South pending the Beast from the East arriving.”
A spokeswoman for EnQuest, a UK company, said: “EnQuest can confirm that the 115 people, who were transferred from the Thistle platform to the nearby Dunlin installation yesterday as a precautionary measure, are safe and well and are in the process of being flown onshore.
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The decision was taken to proactively downman the platform and shutdown production following an inspection relating to a support element on a redundant subsea storage tank.”
"Further inspection work will be conducted and the platform will remain shutdown until that has concluded and any necessary remedial action undertaken."
Bob Davenport, managing director, North Sea at EnQuest said: “The safety of our people is our absolute priority.
“Our offshore installation manager took proactive action to transfer everyone from the platform as a precaution following yesterday’s inspection.
“This was carried out safely and quickly, with plans then made for their onward travel home.
“Further inspection work will be conducted and the platform will remain shutdown until that has concluded and any necessary remedial action undertaken.
“I’d like to thank everyone involved for their support including the team onboard Dunlin, employees, contractors and the Maritime Coastguard Agency.”
Mr Molloy said he understood the evacuated men would still get paid.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) spokeswoman said: “HSE is aware of the evacuation of the EnQuest platform and is making further enquiries.”