The UK’s health and safety regulator has taken over an investigation into the circumstances surrounding a worker who went missing from a North Sea oil rig.
50-year-old Jason Thomas from Wales went missing from the Valaris 121 jack-up around 100 miles south-east of Aberdeen, while it was under tow to Dundee last month.
Two oil supply vessels, a Coastguard helicopter and a Coastguard aeroplane were involved in the search for the missing man, but were later stood down.
Officers from Police Scotland later boarded the rig to carry out enquiries and gather information to help establish the circumstances leading up to the incident.
Police told Energy Voice this week that the case was being treated as a missing persons enquiry and remains ongoing, but confirmed there are not believed to be any suspicious circumstances surrounding Mr Thomas’ disappearance.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says it has now taken the lead in the enquiry process.
In a statement on Tuesday an HSE spokesperson said: “We have taken primacy of the investigation and continue to liaise with the relevant authorities.
“We have been in contact with Jason Thomas’ family with whom our thoughts remain.”
The incident has prompted concerns over regarding oversight, with maritime union RMT previously flagging fears the case could fall into a “vacuum of regulatory cover” due to jurisdictional issues between the various bodies.
HSE, Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) all previously told Energy Voice they were not launching formal investigations.
The MAIB and MCA both indicated that, as the vessel is not UK-registered and the incident took place in international waters (beyond 12 nautical miles to sea), they would not launch formal enquiries.
The MCA stated that as the Valaris 121 rig is registered in Liberia, West Africa, it would be their authorities who would lead on any subsequent investigation.
The 121 remains stationed in Dundee.