Nearly 40 employees of an Aberdeen-based oil and gas drilling company are stranded on a rig in a remote area to the north of Russia.
The Northern Offshore UK workers have been unable to get off the jack-up Energy Exerter in the Pechora Sea for a week due to immigration red tape.
One of them rang the Press and Journal yesterday to speak about their plight and revealed the angry employees had now gone on strike because of safety concerns.
The workers had joined the rig in Denmark before it sailed north in mid-June for a five-month programme for Russian operator Gazflot.
A crew change was originally due to take place last Tuesday but that never happened and the fresh workforce have been stuck in the Russian city of Murmansk, a seaport in the extreme north-west part of Russia.
The worker who called the P&J said: “We have all got visas but none of us can get off because Russian immigration won’t let us.
“Everyone downed tools in protest for a while last week before going back to work. We have now gone on strike again today.
“We are tired and want to get home. We are dead on our feet and stuck here 60 miles from shore.”
The worker said the crew were all from the UK, with most of them being Scottish.
He said that Northern Offshore was doing all it could to get them home.
Steve Gangelhoff, senior vice-president of marketing at the Aberdeen firm’s parent company, said the Russian immigration authorities were not co-operating.
He described it as a “bureaucratic delay”.
Mr Gangelhoff added: “We can appreciate the predicament of these guys on the rig.
“Even Gazflot has been bending over backwards to get a crew change and get these guys off the rig.
“They are also running into a brick wall with the immigration authorities’ lack of movement.
“We are doing everything we can. We are sympathetic to the plight of these guys.”
Mr Gangelhoff was hopeful of a breakthrough in the deadlock later this week.
“We are ready to take out the crew change by helicopter or boat.
“The replacement workers are in Murmansk and are ready to go offshore,” he added.