Decommissioned FPSO's Crew Plans to Strike While Under Tow

Petrojarl Foinaven (file image courtesy BP)

Published Aug 3, 2022 9:07 PM by The Maritime Executive

Unionized workers aboard the decommissioned FPSO Petrojarl Foinaven have safety concerns about their last labor action. 50 workers are planning to go on strike while the Foinaven is under tow to Hunterston, Scotland, and union Unite accuses the operator of doing too little to ensure their safety during the voyage. 

The workers aboard the Foinaven plan to go out on strike over the terms of their severance pay. Staff involved in the decommissioned platform's operations will be laid off this month, and the union claims that shoreside employees of the operation are getting a much larger severance package. 
The trade union has slammed Altera, the vessel’s operator, for maintaining what it calls a ‘wall of silence’ over the safety of the 50 workers who intend to go on strike Friday. During the strike, Foinaven will be under tow from the Foinaven oil field west of the Shetland Islands to Hunterston, an industrial terminal on the Firth of Clyde. The FPSO is expected to reach the port by early next week.

Unite claims that Altera has refused to respond to safety concerns raised over the emergency services provisions for the vessel if it comes into distress or if a fire breaks out, as the workers will remain onboard while on strike. The workers include crane operators, electricians, deck crew and production technicians. 

A fire incident onboard the Foinaven occurred in April, prompting the temporary evacuation of 30 nonessential staff. 

“We remain deeply concerned for the safety of the crew during the tow, which is likely to involve around 50 people, for the Foinaven itself, the towing vessels and the wider environment should anything go wrong,” said Vic Fraser, Unite industrial officer.

Fraser said that Unite had asked Altera if it had been in touch with regulators and other parties involved in the tow - like Maersk, the towing provider - to make sure that all were aware of the implications of the strike. 

Fionaven is owned by a Teekay subsidiary and operated by Altera on behalf of field operator BP. The oil major ended the contract for the vessel after suspending production from the Foinaven field in 2021.

The FPSO is set for decommissioning after decades of operations in the harsh environment west of Shetland. Following redelivery, Teekay will be responsible for its recycling, which will be carried out at an approved shipyard in compliance with UK regulations.