The real cost of drugs and alcohol offshore


Beer at the pub

Alcohol and drugs misuse has cost up to 60 people – including ships’ captains – their jobs at a leading subsea contractor in the last year.

Subsea 7 chief executive Mel Fitzgerald revealed the statistic at an Offshore Europe business breakfast today and said the oil industry needs to work together to tackle the problem.

Fitzgerald said the issue of drug abuse, in particular, needed to be addressed.

“Alcohol is easier to pick up,” he said. “But the drug issue is more serious. Subsea 7 does random checks, we have it in our policy.

“To really stamp down on it their needs to be more togetherness from the industry.”

Fitzgerald said, “Every company takes a stand and we have taken a stand of zero tolerance. We have lost captains. It’s very unusual, but our testing is right across the board.”

However, he pointed out that the sackings were a small proportion of Subsea 7’s total global workforce of about 5,000.

He said he felt the offshore side of Subsea 7’s business was almost totally alcohol-free, but that some problems occurred when workers returned to sea after shore leave.

However, he added, “We do still get situations where alcohol makes its way onto vessels or maybe onto sites.”

Jake Molloy, regional organiser of offshore branch of the RMT union in the UK, said, “I do not know of any of our members who have lost their jobs because of alcohol or drugs.

“Globally there may be issues but in the UK the industry has strict policies that that the workforce abides by.

“We know of workers failing breath tests before flying offshore but at work I do not see this as a problem.”

This was echoed by industry lobby group Oil & Gas UK.

Its health, safety and employment issues director Robert Paterson said, “Here in the UK the industry has stringent rules and procedures around alcohol and drug use.

“There is zero tolerance offshore and many companies carry out random testing of their workforce. Therefore we do see this as a problem in the UK.”


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