The International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) says it is lobbying the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to support a recommendation for governments and national authorities to facilitate the movement of offshore energy sector personnel during the Covid-19 pandemic
IMCA wants to ensure they are considered ‘key workers’ to ease movement during mobilisation and demobilisation for offshore crew changes.
Having gained initial approval from IMO, an international offshore energy industry group including IMCA wrote to the IMO Secretary-General to try to secure recognition of offshore energy sector personnel as ‘key workers’ alongside seafarers and marine personnel.
The ‘recommendations for governments’ (and relevant national authorities) which has been developed by the joint industry group should ensure smooth handovers, essential within the offshore sector.
IMCA head of policy and regulatory affairs Margaret Fitzgerald said, “Although seafarers and marine personnel have been able to reference the recommendations which IMO issued, they are not, unfortunately, applicable for offshore energy sector personnel, such as industrial personnel – a term covering everyone from divers to windfarm engineers, geodata specialists and drilling crew to HSE advisers – who do not fall within the definition of ‘seafarer’ or ‘marine personnel’.
“The international offshore industry group developed an amended set of recommendations specifically addressing offshore energy sector personnel, calling for them to be recognised internationally as ‘key workers’ and given the same consideration as seafarers and marine personnel when transiting to and from their places of work.
“Working together we impressed upon IMO’s Secretary General that continued delivery of energy resources rests with the ability of the offshore energy workforce to continue to carry out its work despite the challenges of Covid-19.
“We are delighted the Secretary-General has now published the Recommendations presented by the five international trade associations.”
IMCA has been collaborating with an International IMO Industry Group, being led by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), in developing a 12-step plan entitled Recommended Framework of Protocols for Ensuring Safe Ship Crew Changes and Travel during the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic, which has been now been published by IMO.
The ‘protocols’ were jointly developed by a number of industry associations and representative bodies.
While the protocols reference the movement of seafarers and marine personnel as initially identified by IMO, they also include a reference to the offshore industry Recommendations of 5 May 2020, “Governments may also wish to apply relevant aspects of this framework of protocols to other marine personnel and designated key workers including, inter alia, offshore energy sector personnel, which are addressed in IMO Circular Letter No.4204/Add.132, Recommendations for Governments and relevant national authorities on facilitating the movement of offshore energy sector personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Ms Fitzgerald explained, “One of the key recommendations in the document calls upon IMO member governments and national authorities to give serious consideration to exempting these key workers ‘from any isolation or quarantine measures that might be applicable to other passengers arriving by aircraft from other countries.’
She added, “In view of the importance of the global offshore energy sector in meeting the world’s energy demands, both IMO documents are intended to assist members when negotiating movement of their personnel across borders. Members are urged to report to the IMCA Secretariat any issues they experience to enable IMCA to raise this at the highest level within IMO member governments.”
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