Safety leaders have voiced concerns that a backlog of maintenance work may have built up offshore during the Covid-19 pandemic.
HSE Director Chris Flint said “virtual visits” that have been carried out during lockdown have thrown up cases of upkeep and capital expenditure on rigs not being carried out.
The UK government agency moved quickly at the beginning of the pandemic to put extensions in place to ensure regulatory checks could continue.
In many cases, HSE inspectors carried out remote visits, either over the phone or via video conferencing, to ensure major accident hazards were being maintained.
During an Oil and Gas UK webinar entitle ‘COVID-19: A Retrospective and Look Ahead’, Mr Flint said: “One of the areas of concern that we picked up during the virtual visits is that quite a lot of maintenance activity and capex has not taken place.
“We’re worried about the effect this could have on the maintenance backlog and the impact that could have down the line. We’ll be able to get first hand evidence on that now we’re going back offshore and will be keeping a very close eye on it.”
The HSE is also likely to keep aspects of the virtual inspections in the future after operators found them “very worthwhile”.
Mr Flint commented: “They’ve been affective from our perspective in seeking reassurance around major accident hazards and Covid-19 compliance.
“They’ve been so successful that our offshore inspectors will probably keep some features of that work going forward.
“It’s been a really good way to get a lot more intelligence about how people are managing their major accident hazards and getting things corrected at an early stage before doing the offshore visit.”