by Patrick Mcloughlin
The North Sea’s main helicopter fleet has been suspended with BP stopping flights with Bond Offshore Helicopters – as the identities of the 16 killed in the helicopter crash were released and the hunt for the wreckage of the craft off the coast of Scotland continued on Friday.
“To allow Bond and their staff time to reflect upon the loss of two of their colleagues, BP has decided to discontinue passenger operations using Bond with immediate effect,” news agency Dow Jones quoted Joanne McDonald, a BP spokesperson as saying.
“Alternative arrangements have been put in place to cover BP’s offshore helicopter operations…Nine scheduled flights will be covered by another helicopter operator,” McDonald said, not specifying how long the alternative arrangements would continue.
BP oil production “unaffected”
BP’s oil production in the North Sea “remains unaffected,” she added.
The wreckage of the Super Puma helicopter is thought be be somewhere 14 miles off the northeast coast of Scotland in waters of up to 100 metres (328 feet).
Eight bodies have been recovered by last night and police said there was no hope of finding survivors.
The Times reported that BP had discontinued flights with Bond Offshore Helicopters – the company which ran the chopper shuttle services carrying the crew and BP staff from the Miller field – because of concerns that pilots would nto be focused enough.
Safety critical operation
“Flying helicopters is a very safety critical operation. It is imperative that the people who are flying those helicopters have their minds fully on the job,” BP executive Bernard Looney told The Times.
The Times reported that BP is believed to be transferring its business to Bristows and CHC Scotia, which are the other helicopter ferrying outfits that lift oil and gas rig staff each day.
Bristows said that 17 out of its fleet of 23 were Pumas, but of a different type to that which crashed of Scotland, The Times said.
CHC Scotia runs 17 helicopters out of the oil city of Aberdeen, all but one of which are versions of the Super Puma.