DOF Subsea Australia Convicted of Health & Safety Violations

skandi singapore
Skandi Singapore (file image courtesy DOF Subsea)

Published Oct 25, 2022 4:57 PM by The Maritime Executive

Offshore contractor DOF Subsea's Australian subsidiary has been convicted of three counts of "negligently breaching health and safety duties" during work off Australia's northwestern coast.

The penalties stem from worker reports filed after a saturation diving job in June-July 2017 at the Ichthys field, conducted aboard the DSV Skandi Singapore. The divers were working on the repair of infrastructure on the seabed at a depth of roughly 800-900 feet - reportedly the deepest dive ever conducted in Australia's offshore sector. They were working on the pipeline to the prolific Ichthys offshore gas field, which feeds an onshore LNG terminal.

In the months after the dive work was finished, NOPSEMA received complaints from seven of the vessel's saturation divers, who said that they had sustained neurological injuries during the diving operations. NOPSEMA conducted an investigation into the circumstances and forwarded the results to prosecutors, who opened a criminal case against DOF Subsea Australia Pty Ltd. The company lost the case, and sentencing will be scheduled at a future date. 

NOPSEMA did not release any further details on the nature of the injuries or the cause. 

Saturation diving is a technical, specialized method used for accessing extreme depths for commercial work. Divers remain in a pressurized habitation throughout the multi-day / multi-week job, undergoing a gradual decompression process only when their role in the project is complete. It requires careful monitoring by dive supervision technicians and is typically carried out with an onboard medical practicioner for safety.

The multi-year NOPSEMA case has not slowed DOF Subsea's commercial work. The company is the leader in the sector, and it continues to secure substantial contracts with supermajors around the world, including in the Australian market.