Whilst much recent analysis and comment has focussed on the Brent price and effect of lifting of Iran sanctions there have also been recent reported comments from unions in relation to worker safety plus their role in incident investigation and confidential reporting.

Tragically, one worker was killed and two workers were injured due to a wave strike to a platform in the Norwegian sector on 30 December. This was the first fatality on the Norwegian CS since 2009. The Norwegian Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) are now being pressurised to allow the Union Industri Energi to take part in the investigation. The Union claims that it can contribute “expertise and experience”.

It will be interesting to see how the PSA responds and handles this as UK regulatory bodies have differing powers e.g. some have the ability to compel witnesses to give statements. On this side of the North Sea the investigation would be handled in a closed and very structured manner without unions or others getting involved. Whilst comments from others would be considered as evidence was obtained there would be a clear order of primacy between the regulatory bodies as to who was leading the investigation, who was making the recommendations and who was recommending any prosecution/enforcement or court based inquiry.

Union comments were also raised yesterday in a Scottish Parliament Committee report Future prospects for oil and gas in Scotland. The report includes comment from unions that in the oil and gas sector the confidential Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reporting system is not working. A comment made was that the HSE confidential line was rarely used due to concerns that data disclosed would mean that anonymity would not be preserved. The union representative said that in effect instead it was them who provided this service. Oil & Gas UK have been invited to make further comment upon this.

At the Scottish Parliamentary Committee the Unions have also made criticisms in relation to foreign flagged vessels and raised concerns over crew competence and crew conditions. The Scottish Parliament Committee have asked the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to respond to these comments (see paragraphs 27-40).