Ross Davidson, 8th April 2009
A taskforce has been set up by the oil and gas industry to address the issues the sector faces following the North Sea helicopter crash which killed 16 people.
The Helicopter Accident Issues Task Group has been set up by industry body Oil and Gas UK to share information and advice on matters arising from the accident, as well as incidents in the past.
The task group, primarily made up of representatives of the companies directly involved in the accident, will also assist in the implementation of any recommendations made by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) following its report into the incident.
The accident happened when the Super Puma helicopter returning from BP’s Miller oil platform went down about 15 miles off Peterhead, killing 14 passengers and two crew.
All 16 bodies have been recovered, while the wreckage of the helicopter has been taken to the AAIB headquarters in Farnborough, Hampshire.
The group will be led by Bob Keiller, chief executive of PSN and co-chairman of Oil and Gas UK. It will meet at least once a month until its work is finished.
Mr Keiller said: “We feel a need to come together as an industry in the aftermath of last week’s appalling loss of life to review, discuss and, if necessary, take action.
“Even though we may not always have early answers to every question, we are determined to ensure that any lessons are shared across the industry as quickly as possible.”
Aberdeen North MSP Brian Adam welcomed the speed with which the group had been set up after calling for a taskforce to be set up to examine the accident and address safety issues in the North Sea.
Mr Adam said: “It will reassure offshore workers that the industry does have safety as its number one priority.
“Importantly this approach will allow any new policy or recommendations to be disseminated quickly right across the industry.”
SNP energy spokesman Mike Weir, MP for Angus and a member of the Commons energy and climate change committee, said: “The industry’s approach in setting up this new task group under the auspices of Oil and Gas UK is a sensible one, in that all companies operating in the sector are potentially affected.”
A spokesman for Grampian Police last night said the investigation was one of the biggest challenges the force has had to deal with in recent years.
He said: “Grampian Police and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service can confirm that whilst the recovery phase is now largely complete, the crucial task of identifying the victims remains the priority along with the inquiry to establish the wider circumstances of the incident.
“It is not yet possible to confirm when the identification will be completed, however, as would be expected, the next of kin are being kept fully informed of all developments.”
Meanwhile, Eurocopter UK said yesterday it had cancelled a ceremony later this month at a new facility in Aberdeen.
The firm is setting up a helicopter service and training operation in a £4million building at Kirkhill Commercial Park in Dyce.
The event, to be held on April 29, was to be held to mark construction work starting on the centre, which will house Eurocopter’s first UK-based EC225 flight training simulator.
Work at the site is expected to be completed by December this year.