BP commits to Jigsaw safety plan

News - May 28, 2004

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BP has announced that it is to implement a new concept in offshore search, rescue and recovery for its North Sea operations.

The decision to go ahead is the culmination of three years of extensive consultation with the offshore workforce and other key stakeholders, together with comprehensive trials.

Total investment by BP and its contractors in these safety enhancements willexceed £135 million and further reinforce BP's long-term commitment to the NorthSea.

The concept employs a regional approach to rescue and recovery offshore and is an evolution of the current methods which are based primarily on standby vesselprovision alone. It incorporates the introduction of:

New regional support vessels carrying specialised independent rescue andrecovery craft and fast rescue craft

New search and rescue (SAR) helicopters with specially trained crew

A new platform-based radar system

New man overboard alarms and personal locator beacons

Bp claims that these arrangements "will provide substantially improved capability for offshore search, rescue and recovery over a wider range of weather and sea state conditions."

The implementation of these enhancements will be phased across BP's North Seaoperations. Personal locator beacons are already issued to all staff traveling to BP installations. Further elements of the programme will follow in 2005 with full implementation expected by 2006.

Implementation of the plan is expected to create around 88 new jobs - 40 new jobs in the aviation sector and a net addition of 48 jobs in the marine sector, allowing for the substitution of a number of existing standby vessels by the new regional supportvessels. The new ships will be British registered and BP expects there will be opportunities for British crew.

BP's says its offshore workforce, including safety representatives, has been an integral part of the project's development through ongoing consultation and has been involved in the extensive helicopter trials. Independent analysis from the trials, combined with the valuable feedback received from the employee consultation process, has enabled BP to refine its original concept through to the point of implementation.

The specific change to the original concept is the enhanced capability provided by the new large regional support vessels and their advanced rescue and recovery craft. This new marine element is capable of providing stand-alone search and rescue and onboard medical treatment provision.

Tim Summers, Director and Business Unit Leader for BP, said: "BP is committed to continuous improvement in safety and we believe that these changes will significantly enhance our existing rescue and recovery capability in theNorth Sea. The decision to move ahead is the result of extensive consultation and is a credit to everyone who has been involved."

BP has awarded contracts for the implementation of the new system to Bond Offshore Helicopters for the provision of the state of the art search andrescue helicopters, and a contract to provide the marine resources for the project has been awarded to Seaguard.

The project (termed in the planning stages as 'Jigsaw') was initiated to review possibilities for improved search and rescue synergies and capability, following the merger of BP and Amoco in 1999.

The original concept was based on the use of advanced SAR helicopters, based offshore with specially trained crews, and platform based fast rescue crafts. As the project evolved through employee consultation, regional support vessels were added to the resources to be made available.

Each of these vessels is designed to carry two "autonomous" rescue and recovery craft (capable of operating independently of the regional support vessel) and two fast rescue craft.

Implementation will involve the provision of two new SAR helicopters - one based offshore in the central North Sea area, and one based at Scatsta, Shetland. An additional back-up helicopter, with SAR capability, will be based in Aberdeen. Three new regional support vessels will be based in the ETAP, Miller and Magnus regions respectively. A fourth vessel will provide relief and cover for the other three vessels, and will be used to shuttle platform supplies.

The advanced platform based radar system will be able to track all vessels within each field over a 25 nautical mile range. The man overboard alarms being fitted to all platforms will activate if any of the personal locator beacons, worn by all offshorestaff, are immersed in salt water.

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