Combating the risk of Covid-19 spreading on offshore rigs in the North Sea

The prevention of Covid-19 reaching the platforms in the North Sea is critical for operations to continue

A partnership has been launched in response to the energy industry’s requirements during the Covid-19 crisis. SSI Energy, a leading provider of medical and technical personnel to the energy industry, have partnered with CHC, a global helicopter service company specialising in providing travel to remote and challenging locations.

The North Sea platforms provide a bleak and isolated work environment at the best of times but the additional threat that Covid-19 brings has seen the operations around personnel safety intensify.

The prevention of Covid-19 reaching the platforms in the North Sea is critical for operations to continue. The SSI-Energy/CHC partnership offers operators a collaborative turnkey solution to mitigate this risk. Screening centres, employing specialist SSI Energy medics, were quickly set up at airports to reduce the chance of transmitting the disease offshore. Simultaneously, work was undertaken to address a worse-case scenario - Covid-19 being present on a rig or vessel. CHC provided specialist Covid-19-adapted helicopters that could pick up infected personnel and bring them back to shore. This operation is supported by SSI Energy medics who accompany the helicopter to ensure any Covid-19 patients are given the best possible care.

SSI Energy’s Medical Director, Paddy Morgan, and his clinical governance team have scrutinised procedures to ensure that offshore personnel can receive the best medical care available at a moment’s notice. An SSI Energy medic can be mobilised via CHC’s Covid-19 helicopter in under an hour, reaching the suspected case no more than three hours from the initial call.

“The safety and health of operatives working in the offshore industry is of paramount importance. SSI Energy have been forward thinking enough to realise that the key to flexible, professional and cutting-edge medical services has been to engage a suitably qualified and medically current Clinical Governance team to make sure that all medical aspects of any tasking are appropriate and timely. This enables us to offer a high level of care to our patients and maximum protection for any of the SSI Energy Medics on tasking. These in harmony assist overall performance and delivery of bespoke medical solutions like the CHC partnership.”

CHC and SSI have mirrored this partnership operation in Aberdeen, following its successful set up in Norwich. Lee James, Deputy General Operations Manager at CHC explained;

‘We quickly recognised that the virus could have a significant impact on our customers’ operations. CHC developed a helicopter solution providing a dedicated aircraft and crew assigned to the recovery of suspected COVID-19 passengers, including, when requested, a fully qualified on-board medic. The service has been welcomed by our customers, allowing normal operations to be maintained whilst ensuring affected passengers are quickly and safely flown back to base.’