French oil giant Total today denied mounting a large-scale down manning operation on one of its North Sea platforms due to concerns over lifeboat provision.
Total said it had slightly reduced the number of people on Elgin-Franklin, but dismissed claims in a media report which set the figure as high as 40.
The report said Total was down manning because it would not have had enough lifeboat capacity for a full evacuation of Elgin-Franklin while adhering to industry standards for lifeboats.
According to a guidance note on the subject from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), lifeboat makers calculate vessel capacities based on an average weight per passenger of 75kilograms, a figure which factors in the presence of women and children.
However, the Civil Aviation Authority has said the average weight of a male offshore worker is 98kilograms, compared with 77kilograms for women.
As such, filling a lifeboat with a majority of male offshore workers would go against manufacturers’ weight and capacity specifications.
Total said the lifeboats on Elgin-Franklin were capable of supporting a full evacuation, but had limited staff numbers on the platform in any case.
A spokesperson for Total said: “Safety is Total’s core value. The lifeboats on Elgin have been tested to a weight per seat significantly above 75kgs and are adequate for the evacuation of all personnel on board.
“We are limiting the POB (personnel on board) at 128, the POB yesterday was 131 and the number of beds is 138.
“We will continue to work with HSE to resolve this issue of certification.”