At the end of March 2020, OGUK figures showed a decrease in staff numbers on North Sea offshore installations of 40% due to the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.
The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) is now expecting the change in manning levels to last “quite a long time”.
As a result of the pandemic, operators have made changes to help keep workers socially distanced, implementing safety measures such as screens, single-occupancy cabins and staggered working hours, but this raises the question of whether the reduction in personnel leaves enough manpower to keep these platforms running in their current form.
What if platforms didn’t need people; just safe, reliable systems that could be operated remotely? What if the regular intervention required on normally unmanned installations (NUIs) was unnecessary and the operation of manned platforms could be streamlined down to Minimum Manning Levels? This would not only reduce the risk of virus infection, but reduce the risk of injury or death from accidents, decrease costs incurred from living and transport arrangements, improve safety standards, mitigate mistakes caused by human error; and as a further benefit, drive vast improvements to operational efficiency.