EEEGR 2014 to feature offshore helicopter safety talk

New safety measures for helicopters serving the oil and gas industry have prompted a two-hour breakout session specifically on the issue at the EEEGR 2014 Conference in Norwich next month.

Simon Gray, EEEGR chief executive
Simon Gray, EEEGR chief executive

“Thousands of people in this region will be affected and with many from the industry already gathering for our conference it seemed logical to pass on the vital information about the implications as soon as possible,” said Simon Gray, chief executive of EEEGR, the East of England Energy Group.

So the special session will be held from 12.40pm during the EEEGR2014 Conference, at the John Innes Conference Centre, Norwich, on Thursday July 3rd.

It follows the Civil Aviation Authority’s CAP1145 review of public helicopter operations in the oil & gas sector and the introduction of new measures to increase safety.

Among the changes will be a requirement that new Category A Emergency Breathing Systems will have to be worn by every passenger on such helicopters. Until that can happen, each passenger must sit by an emergency exit, making many of the central seats temporarily redundant.

“That will have a major impact on the helicopters service as we approach the height of maintenance season in the North Sea,” said Gray.

“They will be able to carry fewer passengers and so have to make more trips when they are already fully stretched. Additional airframes and pilots cannot be instantly implemented so it is important to get offshore personnel trained in this new equipment as quickly as possible to ensure that we can maintain continuity of supply from the SNS.”

Related: UK CAA introduces measures to boost offshore helicopter safety

This will mean that thousands of potential passengers will have a limited time to be trained in the use of the new apparatus, a major challenge for authorised training centres like Petans, near Norwich, which is planning an intense series of OPITO approved courses. Petans General Manager Michael Wilder will be among speakers at the breakout session.

Other companies with speakers at the session include CHC Helicopters and Step Change.

Meanwhile, the EEEGR2014 event itself, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, is set to sweep away any lingering doubts about the scale of the opportunities opening up for companies in the East of England supply chain.

Conference speakers will underline not just the golden prospects in offshore wind and oil & gas but the many chances for business to diversify into working in the markets of nuclear, solar, onshore and unconventional gas, and power network and storage installations.

And the increased prospect of the region’s firms working more closely with those from the North-East of Scotland will be explored by James Bream from Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce. Many supply chain companies are already establishing a foot in each camp.

Other key speakers include Sir Ian Wood, who will discuss future opportunities for the region arising from his national review of the oil & gas industry published earlier this year; and Shadow Energy Minister Tom Greatrex, outlining Labour’s energy strategy.

“They head an impressive line-up of speakers with vast experience and the interests of the supply chain at heart,” said Gray. “The variety of energy resources in this region is breathtaking so it is good news all the way.”

Related: CAA: Emergency Breathing Equipment on offshore helicopters compulsory from 2015

Press Release, June 19, 2014