March 12, 2020

OGUK Health, Safety and Environment Director Trevor Stapleton said:

“OGUK continues to work with our members to share official advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) from the relevant bodies to ensure the health of the people in our industry.

“This sector is experienced in managing risks associated with complex safety and health matters, with robust processes and arrangements in place to ensure effective prevention measures and response for both onshore and offshore operations. The challenges of managing health in a remote environment are understood and industry has long-established medical facilities and personnel onboard, supported by a topsides doctor onshore.

“In addition to following official advice and in support of members, OGUK has over the past weeks facilitated industry discussion with the appropriate agencies on how best to understand, manage and respond to the challenges this novel virus poses, ensuring information is shared. This includes our regulator, the HSE, and the relevant public health bodies.

“As with confirmed cases onshore, in the event of a confirmed case offshore, the affected operator will work with the relevant agencies to risk assess the specifics of the situation and ascertain the appropriate response. OGUK continues to work with all our members and stakeholders to share information.”

General Update:

Following the WHO confirmation yesterday that COVID-19 is a pandemic, the UK government is expected to move into the next stage of response shortly.

This may mean significant changes to the way we work and socialise, and most importantly the way we individually act to minimise the spread of infection.

All members are encouraged to stay up to date with and continue to follow government advice on responding to COVID-19 and to communicate with their workforce and supply chain on how that advice is being implemented in their operations.

There is wide-ranging advice on many topics available from Public Health England and Health Protection Scotland on how best to minimise transmission of the virus within the workplace. This advice is revised and new guidance produced continuously as more is learned about the virus.

Regularly updated guidance and resources can be found on the following web pages:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-list-of-guidance

https://www.hps.scot.nhs.uk/a-to-z-of-topics/covid-19/

UK agencies are co-ordinating to ensure that advice is consistent across the country.

OGUK Pandemic Steering Group

OGUK has convened an industry Pandemic Steering Group, which is made up from representatives from across the sector and is tasked with identifying and addressing the particular challenges faced by those working to maintain offshore operations at industry-level and ensuring communication with relevant stakeholders and government agencies.  The group is tasked with focusing only on those issues which require cross-industry action and co-ordination.

The PSG is meeting regularly and updates are being shared with our technical groups. It is not tasked with providing updates and advice on operational response. Member companies are implementing their individual pandemic response and business continuity plans to ensure that industry can respond effectively.

OGUK will share industry-specific advice as it becomes available and enable sharing of lessons learned as members gain experience in dealing with the specifics of this pandemic.

Industry Travel Policy for Offshore Installations

Given the challenges of managing any confirmed case of COVID-19 on an offshore installation, industry policy is to have restrictions on workers travelling to offshore installations. Industry policy is that personnel will not be permitted to travel offshore if:

  • They have travelled from or transited through affected countries in the last 14 days, or since dates defined on the UK government’s list of affected areas.

This includes both Category 1 and Category 2 areas (up to date lists can be found here).

  • If they have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days.
  • If they have experienced symptoms of cough, fever and shortness of breath.

Oil and gas industry travel restrictions apply to fixed and mobile offshore installations. It is not intended to apply to vessels involved in the offshore oil and gas industry.