What are they telling us about COVID-19 on the North Sea?

Not much!  As little as possible I suspect.

The story is that Shell’s Gannet installation pretty much got down manned to skeleton levels last week (the week ending 11 October) because of Covid19.

Seemingly nine guys were evacuated on Wednesday evening and another 9 the following morning.  Four caterers were all due to be down manned the next day and replaced by a new catering crew to service however many is now the new normal POB.

Shell don’t deny any of this. Mind you they didn’t inform anyone about it either. In fact when we spoke to them, all they came out with was that old chestnut about safety being their first priority.

A Shell Spokesperson said;

“Our priority is the welfare of our people and the safe operations of all our businesses. The Gannet platform is operating safely, and we are monitoring the situation closely.”

It looks like it all kicked off over a week ago – Sunday the 4th – when the first evacuee from the Gannet, who would then go on to test positive for COVID19, showed symptoms of the disease.

Taxis home for the guys paid for by Shell – even those going back to the North East of England.  Although it seems one man was quarantined in an Aberdeen area hotel.  We wonder what that’s all about.

Would they not all have been quarantined in hotels, on full wages, till they’d been tested and could be proven to be no longer infectious, instead of being papped off home to their families and communities with whatever, if anything, they had contracted?

And if this level of down manning is correct it does beg the question of whether they’re just keeping production going as usual on Gannet and if so, can this really be done safely with so few guys left on board? 

If we know a little more about this story than Shell wants us to it’s only because an offshore worker joined the conversation.   

It looks like when Shell realised that the Gannet story was out, they decided silence maybe wasn’t going to cut it anymore.  Because yesterday they told the Press & Journal that they’d down-manned 14 guys from the Nelson on Sunday after a guy who’d tested positive was medivaced on the Friday.  Looks like they didn’t bother to tell the P & J about the Gannet though.

We wonder whether they’ve yet bothered to tell the guys that took the scheduled chopper home from Nelson on Friday that they’d been sharing digs with the coronavirus victim.  Who knows?

Up to now the story of Covid offshore has been as clear as mud.

Back on August 27, A headline in the industry trade paper “Energy Voice” shouted:

“The North Sea is bringing the risk of Covid “under control” with just 10 cases of people contracting it while at work offshore in the UK”

They went on,

“Figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show only a handful of cases being contracted in the oil and gas sector since the beginning of April, none of which have been fatal.”

But then didn’t go on to explain why way back in early July, in an article titled; 

“North Sea went a week with zero medivacs for workers with Covid symptoms

Energy Voice had already reported that 133 flights had evacuated 236 workers all bearing symptoms of COVID19, and that one worker who had been evacuated with symptoms had since died. Who knows what the situation really is today.

“Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) said it shows barriers ‘appear to be working’, as the industry makes moves to re-man to normal offshore levels.”

Well, maybe not so much on Gannet!  How is the industry getting on re-manning to normal levels?  Do they mean ‘new-normal’ manning levels?

Looks like a lot of guys are never going back out.  Oil & Gas UK are predicting up to 21,000 redundancies in the Industry in the next year and a half, on top of the 9,000 that have gone already during this latest bout of market chaos.

What is actually going on out there?