A GROUP of north-east oil workers who were stranded on a rig in a remote area north of Russia were reunited with their loved ones last night after arriving back in Aberdeen.
Eight of the Northern Offshore UK workers landed at Aberdeen Airport, having been marooned on jack-up Energy Exerter in the Pechora Sea for more than a week because of immigration red tape.
One of them told the Press and Journal: “It’s such a relief to be home.”
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 was stuck in the Russian city of Murmansk, a port in the extreme north-west of Russia.
Last night, roughneck Simon Cuthbert, of Aberdeen, spoke about the uncertainty the crew had to face.
“The morale on the rig was good and we were informed about everything that was ongoing but it was out of our hands,” said the 27-year-old.
“Everyone just wanted to get off the rig but we understood fully that all we could do was wait.”
He added: “To a certain extent it was annoying but the guys were doing all they could, they were giving us every bit of information they had and keeping us up to date and we knew there was nothing they could do.”
At one stage the stranded crew downed tools in protest over the situation.
Mr Cuthbert’s colleague James Milne, 22, a motorman of Boyne Road, Whitehills, near Banff, added: “The company just shut it down. They told us, ‘look guys, we’ll take it easy, we’re not in any rush and there’s no panic so just keep safe’.
“We were treated very well, the phones were there, we had e-mail access so we could let people know what was going on. But at the end of the day everyone wanted to go home and it’s very nice to be home now.”
Stewart Baxter, 22, a motorman of Aberdeen’s Woodside area, remained philosophical about the group’s plight saying: “I think they’ll be trying their best to get everything resolved for the next trip.”
Northern Offshore general manager John Monks said: “We are very grateful for the continued support of our whole team – the delayed crew and those who have worked hard to get everyone home.”
Nearly 40 workers had been stranded on the rig.