Energy Reporter, 10th May 2012
The 14 crew and passengers of a helicopter that ditched in the North Sea today are back safely on on land after air and sea rescues.
The Bond EC225 Super Puma had made an emergency ditch 25 miles off the coast of Aberdeen after a warning light observing low oil pressure appeared just after noon.
The passengers on board had been heading to two drilling rigs, the Maersk Resilient, a jack-up owned by Maersk Drilling, and the ENSCO 102.
Both are working for ConocoPhillips on its Jasmine development. The firm said arrangements were being made to recover the helicopter from the sea.
All 14 – 12 passengers and two crew – safety boarded life rafts. A major rescue operation was launched after the alarm was raised, with Coastguard and RAF helicopters called to the scene along with two lifeboats. Nine of the 12 were winched to safety and flown to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary while the remaining five were taken to Aberdeen by lifeboat back to the Granite City.
One man is being detained at the hospital while all the others have been discharged or are not expected.
Oil & Gas UK’s health and safety director Robert Paterson said: “Oil & Gas UK welcomes the news that all people on board have been successfully rescued. All offshore helicopter pilots undergo extensive training to prepare them for emergency situations and all passengers undergo regular helicopter evacuation training.
“Helicopter safety remains a focus for the oil and gas industry, with the Helicopter Safety Steering Group (HSSG) now an established part of the Step Change in Safety organisation. Oil & Gas UK awaits more information on this incident and, through the HSSG, will ensure any learning from this is shared across the industry.”
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said: “Incidents such as these remain very rare but do serve as a stark reminder of the dangers faced by those offshore workers who are required to use helicopters on a regular basis.
“Once all of those involved have been transferred ashore, the priority will be for the appropriate authorities to investigate the causes of this accident and ensure the future safety of flying operations in the North Sea.”
Jim McAuslan, general secretary of pilots’ union Balpa, praised the helicopter’s pilots, saying it “looks like a terrific piece of airmanship from very skilled pilots”.
An AS332L2 Super Puma crashed in the North Sea, 14 miles from Peterhead, killing all 16 people on board in 2009.
The accident followed an EC225LP model of the same helicopter ditching in the North Sea, 120 miles east of Aberdeen, about a month earlier. All 18 men on board survived.