North Sea oil and gas operators have committed to fund a search and rescue (SAR) helicopter service, supplementing national SAR cover for parts of the Central North Sea. The service will be operated by Bond Offshore Helicopters and will ensure existing rescue and recovery standards are maintained.
The launch of a new UK-wide search and rescue service by the Department for Transport next month coincides with decommissioning plans for BP Miller platform, where the Jigsaw helicopter has been based, and which has provided additional rescue and response cover to the Central North Sea on a good will basis.
Malcolm Webb, chief executive of Oil & Gas UK, said: “Jigsaw has been an excellent service that has benefited many in the Central North Sea over the years. However the removal of the Miller platform means that service was not sustainable.
“Furthermore changes to national SAR provision mean that the two-hour time set down by industry for rescue and recovery cannot be guaranteed in certain parts of the Central North Sea. Accordingly, the operators of various fields in the Central North Sea worked together and with Oil & Gas UK to find a solution. This industry-funded search and rescue helicopter service will maintain the rescue and recovery capability we demand for our offshore workforce.”
The participating companies have awarded Bond Offshore Helicopters a £60 million contract over five years to deliver the service which will operate out of Aberdeen and provide rescue and recovery and medevac cover for offshore workers in the Central North Sea.
Robert Paterson, health, safety and employment issues director at Oil & Gas UK, said: “Industry has worked collaboratively to deliver this new search and rescue service that will ensure we can respond when required and within the two-hour criteria set by our industry. This fine example of industry collaboration underlines the fact that, at all times, the safety of the workforce is our top priority.”
Steve Griffiths, managing director, Bond Offshore Helicopters, added: “Our search and rescue teams have been providing a life-saving service with specialist helicopters for almost a decade. Today’s announcement ensures the men and women working offshore in the Central North Sea will continue to receive world-class search and rescue support.”
The industry-funded SAR helicopter and the dedicated back-up aircraft will be based at Bond Offshore Helicopters HQ at Aberdeen International Airport and cover a radius of around 160 nautical miles in the Central North Sea.