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Managing a potential outbreak of COVID-19 offshore has been at the forefront of all operators’ minds ever since the pandemic began. The situation is no different for activities in the North Sea, and over the last year, we have seen a variety of new demands imposed on staff and personnel who await embarkment at UK ports.

RMI has worked closely with a leading independent oil and gas company to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 offshore. Implementing systems and protocols across three sites in the UK, the company has had to adapt rapidly to the increasing pressures imposed by the threat of a viral contagion.

RMI Deployed a Plan

Initially, RMI deployed a plan to issue ad-hoc testing to personnel who were due to embark and travel to one of the client company’s offshore platforms. The initial protocol included issuing RT-PCR tests to individuals who would arrive onsite ready to embark. RMI alongside the client would risk assess which crews required testing as a matter of priority, then administering tests to those in need.

Such personnel would stay in a local hotel, awaiting the results of their test and if negative, would soon travel offshore.

Very quickly, the need for ad-hoc testing progressed into the requirement for regular daily testing, which saw RMI move into a rapid testing partnership with the client in September 2020. The client invested heavily in acquiring VitaPCR testing machines, which were operated by a team of RMI medics in Norwich.

RMI in Partnership With the Client and a Local Hotel

Due to the volume of personnel traveling offshore and the increasing severity of the pandemic, RMI in partnership with the client and the local hotel had to grow the testing facility from a singular swab and testing room to a much larger operation to safely test and accommodate staff.  The local hotel being used became an adapted testing and accommodation facility for the complete array of testing options available.

Such adaptations enabled RMI to facilitate the delivery of over 6,500 VitaPCR tests since the end of September 2020.

18,695 Tests and Counting

As the pandemic and rapid testing evolved, RMI has assisted the client in moving into Lateral Flow Testing with over 1,200 antigen tests now being delivered monthly in Norwich alone as well as having grown over two more sites. In totality, including the rapid Vita PCR testing and lateral flow testing, RMI has successfully administered tests for over 18,695 of the client’s personnel (as of the first week of July 2021).

The partnership has not come without difficulty, simply due to the pressures imposed by sending thousands of staff offshore on a weekly basis during a global pandemic. In the beginning, RMI medics, already highly trained and qualified, had to adapt quickly to the novel protocols required of delivering a successful VitaPCR test. With each test-taking, approximately 30 minutes, delivering 80 to 90 tests a day within an eight-hour window meant that there was no room for error.

Fortunately, RMI medics worked collaboratively with the client staff and tackled a dramatic learning curve together under increasingly challenging conditions.

Success Across Three Sites

With a team of 21 covering medical and administrative tasks, RMI successfully deployed staff across three sites who worked on rotations to meet the client’s testing needs. The protocols and systems were developed in collaboration, graduating from ad-hoc testing to a fully operational COVID-19 mitigation strategy. The client’s staff were then able to arrive in groups, get tested, and embark the same day if a negative reading was given.

This enabled the client to slash their accommodation costs, as the required length of stay for each staff member was cut in half.

RMI Project Manager, Jon Tipper, who formerly worked in risk management in Haiti for 12 years, is responsible for overseeing the success of the project. On the partnership, Jon explains how “it was designed in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 offshore and it has been overwhelmingly successful in doing so”.

Future Collaboration

RMI will continue to work alongside the client in delivering an effective COVID-19 testing and management protocol for staff deploying in the North Sea.

If you require assistance with COVID-19 screening or testing, RMI can help you create a healthy environment for your workforce and the local community.

Acquire COVID-19 Assistance