Chancellor George Osborne today boarded another Super Puma AS332L helicopter to fly to Talisman’ Sinopec’s Montrose platform to talk to offshore workers, following his keynote address on the opening day of the Offshore Europe industry showcase.
The conference began with a one minute’s silence for the four oil workers who lost their lives in the Shetland disaster.
In his speech Mr Osborne paid tribute to the “four brave professionals” - Duncan Munro, Sarah Darnley, Gary McCrossan and George Allison - who lost their lives in the Super Puma crash.
And he said the book of condolence at the showcase showed the “depth of feeling that the industry has for the people who have lost their lives and those who were injured.”
He told delegates: “The whole of the UK owes a massive debt to the thousands of men and women who work in what is an inherently dangerous environment – delivering enormous benefits to every family in the country.
“I know that as an industry you sometimes feel taken for granted. Well, I want you to know this: you are not taken for granted. You are very much appreciated.”
He added: “Later today I will travel out to Talisman Sinopec’s Montrose platform and I know I will feel the same pride in what our country can achieve when we work together. For from the day 38 years ago, when the first oil was piped ashore in Cruden Bay, the oil and gas industry has brought huge benefits to the whole of the UK. And it continues to do so today. Oil and gas still meets around 70 per cent of the UK’s primary energy needs - with more than half of UK demand for oil and gas met by UK production.”
Bristow resumes flights
Earlier today, one of the North Sea’s three main helicopter companies resumed crew change flights involving a Super Puma for the first time since the entire fleet was grounded following the Sumburgh Head disaster on 23 August.
The flight was operated by Bristow helicopters on Monday after being chartered by an undisclosed oil company.
The helicopter involved was an L version of the aircraft - a variant which was not involved in the disaster in which the four oil workers were killed or last year’s two North Sea ditchings.
A spokeswoman for Bristow Helicopters said: “We resumed passenger operations with the Bristow Tiger, AS332L, on behalf of one of our clients yesterday, Monday 2 September.”
Last Thursday the members of the oil industry’s Helicopter Safety Steering Group decided to end the temporary grounding of the entire Super Puma fleet which had left Britain’s oil and gas industry facing an unprecedented crew change crisis.
Under the flight resumption plans the early L and L1 versions of the helicopter were cleared for an immediate return to normal crew change flights while the EC225 version of the Super Puma - the model involved in two non fatal ditchings last year - continues with a phased return to service.
But the L2 version of the helicopter - the Super Puma model involved in the Shetland crash - will only be allowed to fly meantime on what has been described as “non passenger revenue operations.”
There are only of eight L and L1 helicopters based in Aberdeen - a fraction of the entire North Sea helicopter fleet of 80 helicopters of various makes. Bond have no L or L1s. CHC has one and Bristow has seven AS332Ls in Aberdeen.