More than 30 staff members of the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) are unable to go back home. The reason? There is a shortage of helicopters to transport them back to mainland from the Bombay High oil rig. The employees work in shifts of 14 days. For a fortnight, they are in the city, while for the rest of the two weeks, they work on the offshore rig, which is about 160 km from the city.
Pic for representation
An employee on the rig said, “We have been here for the past 8 days because no choppers have come to take us home. We have no idea why this is happening.” Three companies – Pawan Hans, Heligo Charters Pvt Ltd and Global Vectra Helicorp Ltd, provide the transport choppers to ONGC. These ferry the employees from the city to Bombay High and back, after the shift has been completed.
An official from Pawan Hans confirmed the incident, saying, “Yes, the staff members are stuck on the rig. There have been maintenance issues with our choppers. Hence, two out of ten aren’t flying, which means we are flying 20 per cent less than usual. Among the two, one is under repair after an accident which occurred during the Uttarakhand flood relief operations. But, the problem is not due to us. The other two companies supply the majority of aircrafts.”
Sree Kumar, GM (Western Region), Pawan Hans, clarified, “According to the contract, Pawan Hans supplies ten choppers to ONGC on a daily basis. It is obvious that aircraft require some standard maintenance. Otherwise, there is no shortage of choppers from our side.” Officials from Heligo Charters refused to speak on the issue, while those from Global Vectra were unavailable for comment.
On their part, ONGC vehemently denied any such issue. A spokesperson from the company told MiD DAY, “None of the employees are stuck offshore. These employees are on rotation duty and the crew change takes place in a scheduled pattern, whereby stay period of different categories of personnel is different. For some, it is 14 days of offshore duty and for others it is 28 days or even more.
During such crew changes, at times it happens that there may be a little delay in catering to a particular crew change at the assigned time. So, there may be slight delay, which could be because of weather conditions, or non-availability of flying window for technical reasons. However this is only a temporary issue and regularity is always resumed in a day or two.”
He further added, “Safety of the offshore personnel is paramount to ONGC. Because of the mandatory inspection, a few helicopters are not available to ONGC for regular operations, as this inspection is very important to ensure fly-worthiness of the aircrafts. Whenever such mandatory requirements are scheduled, all care is taken so as not to affect normal operations.
Approximate distance between the Bombay High oil rig and the city shore