The North Sea is not expected to see any surge in offshore manning levels for months, according to industry body Oil and Gas UK (OGUK).
Personnel on board (PoB) has stagnated at around 9,000 since July, having dropped from 11,000 to 7,000 in April.
Although Covid cases offshore have largely been brought down, there was a surge in category B cases – people who have come in contact with a person with Covid – last month amid a second wave in the UK.
Oil and Gas UK Health and Safety director Trevor Stapleton said: “I don’t honestly believe you’re going to see a massive increase above the 9,000 PoB we’re currently seeing over the winter period.
“In terms of what are we trying to do address the winter piece, I’d say we’re already in position to do that now and testing has started to grow.
“I think this has now come into being, which will service us over the winter period.”
Mr Stapleton said “most operators and contractors” have some kind of testing process in place, though the trade body is still seeking industry-wide asymptomatic testing.
Category B and Category C cases, the latter being those suspected to be positive, are sitting between “20-25s” and “5-15” per week respectively, according to OGUK.
However, with England going into another national lockdown last week, the benefits of that won’t be seen for some time offshore.
Mr Stapleton added: “I suspect that with the lockdown measures being introduced across the UK, the numbers are probably going to remain consistent over the year, although we might see a bit more of an increase because, like with everyone, there’s a lag here.
“So it won’t be until we hit December until we see the benefits of a UK lockdown playing out in an offshore arena.
“Whether we see an increase in PoB numbers will depend on whether operators feel that they have the risk control measures in place that will ultimately allow for cabin sharing.”