The number of people working in the offshore oil and gas sector has returned to levels not seen since before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Figures from trade body Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) show that the average daily number of workers offshore last week was 11,238.
That is a marginal increase on March 10, 2020, when there were 11,183 personnel on board installations.
At the height of the first lockdown in April last year, manning levels on offshore installations fell to just 4,037.
As the pandemic began to gain a foothold in Europe, oil and gas firms began operating with skeleton crews in the North Sea to try and minimise the risk of a Covid outbreak.
And earlier this year, as the UK was in the thralls of a second wave, several operators were forced to reduce their manning levels again due to cases of the virus offshore.
Industry chiefs have previously emphasised the need to increase offshore numbers in order to address the maintenance backlog that has built up in the last year.
OGUK said a return to pre-pandemic levels of offshore workers “brings stability and reassurance” to the industry, which has safeguarded the UK’s energy needs throughout the pandemic.
Trevor Stapleton, the trade body’s health and safety director, said: “It has been an incredibly difficult 18 months for our sector and we’re encouraged to see the number of workers returning to their critical offshore work, continue to rise to pre-pandemic levels.
“Following on from the recent KMPG report highlighting our sector’s role in supporting the Scottish economy, the OGA’s Survey data which showed a substantial decrease in CO2 emissions in the North Sea, and with our own findings today, our sector is showing the vital role it can play in supporting a lower carbon economy and supporting jobs.
“While we welcome this milestone, the safety of our workforce offshore remains our top priority. We encourage those returning to work offshore to maintain those barriers which have been put in place, to protect the safety of themselves and their colleagues. As well as this, we also encourage all members of the workforce to take the vaccine, when offered.
“We are set to announce our Workforce Covid Safety information campaign in the coming days – a collaborative project with Step Change in Safety to help reduce the transmission of Covid and other infectious diseases offshore.”