Photo: Aker BP

Norwegian operator criticised over vaccine mandate plans for offshore workers

A Norwegian union representing offshore oil and gas workers has criticised Aker BP’s process to introduce a Covid-19 vaccine mandate for its offshore employees.

As reported by Industri Energi union, starting from February 2022, Aker BP plans to introduce vaccine requirements for all of its offshore workers as part of the protection against coronavirus.

“We are strongly critical of the process Aker BP has run,” said Industri Energi deputy manager, Lill-Heidi Bakkerud.

According to the union, Aker BP did not include it in the “express process” it has been running. Ingard Haugeberg, Industri Energi’s leader in ABC club, said: “We agree that we must protect our employees and our suppliers in the best possible way, but it also requires that we are involved in how it should happen and how our employees and suppliers are taken care of in this process.”

Haugeberg also said the company has not had any discussions with the union nor did it involve the union in any way related to how this should happen, emphasising the disappointment with the company’s approach.

Bakkerud called the measures intrusive and unsustainable, pointing out the need for a thorough risk assessment with employee participation.

She encouraged the company to spend a little more time and run an orderly process going forward with proper participation from the employees’ representatives.

Offshore Energy has reached out to Aker BP, seeking comment on the union’s statement related to vaccine requirements. A spokesperson for Aker BP confirmed the company will introduce requirements for Covid protection for travelling offshore.

“In practice, this means that offshore staff have either been vaccinated or have been tested positive during the last twelve months prior to the offshore travel. The vaccine requirement is that you have either been fully vaccinated or have taken the first dose in the last three to fifteen weeks prior to travelling offshore,” the spokesperson explained.

According to the spokesperson, both the safety delegates and the unions have supported the intention of introducing requirements for protection for travelling offshore and the details about the practical implementation are to be landed before the requirement is introduced on February 1.

“There are still some clarifications, and we have a good process with the safety delegates and the unions,” the spokesperson added.

The company’s spokesperson also told us that employees who don’t meet the new requirements will get alternative work onshore.

Aker BP is currently in the process of merging with Lundin’s oil and gas business following a deal made in December 2021. The merged entity is expected to be the largest listed E&P company focused exclusively on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS).