Hibernia to improve search and rescue off N.L.
The managers of the Hibernia oil platform off the east coast of Newfoundland confirmed Friday that they are looking for a helicopter that will improve emergency response times to the platform.
Margot Bruce-O'Connell, the company's public affairs manager, told CBC News that Hibernia has started a worldwide search for a helicopter that would meet the criteria laid out by the board that regulates the offshore oil industry on the East Coast.
Last Friday, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board — prompted by early recommendations from the Offshore Helicopter Safety Inquiry —- ordered oil companies to temporarily halt night flights to and from oil platforms in the North Atlantic, and to provide faster emergency response times.
The board told the companies they must have a fully-equipped search and rescue helicopter on standby in St. John's, and one that can be in the air within 15 to 20 minutes of a call for assistance, or within 45 minutes in the evenings and overnight.
The board has also ordered that the helicopter must be equipped with technology to locate and retrieve personnel from the water in low visibility.
Oil companies were given one week to tell the board when they could meet the order.
Late Friday afternoon, Bruce-O'Connell said Hibernia had informed the offshore oil board about its plans to find a helicopter to meet the board's demands.
A board spokesman said Friday all companies that operate in the East Coast offshore have submitted responses. The petroleum board is reviewing those submissions.
Robert Wells, commissioner of the Offshore Helicopter Safety Inquiry, told the board in a letter last week that he has heard enough evidence at the public inquiry to warrant some immediate changes to improve safety.
The inquiry was established after 17 people died in March 2009, when a Cougar helicopter ferrying workers to oil platforms off St. John's crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.