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Reuters: Shell to meet staff over N.Sea safety concerns

ABERDEEN, Sept 6 (Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: Quote, Profile , Research) (RDSa.AS: Quote, Profile , Research) will meet with staff later on Thursday to discuss safety concerns raised by employees on offshore platforms in the UK North Sea, a company spokesman said.

Staff have written to Shell’s vice president for production in Europe John Hollowell, raising concerns over staffing levels and safety on offshore installations, some of which were put up for sale in June this year.

Shell, along with some other big oil firms, is seeking to divest some assets in the UK North Sea, which is a mature oil and gas province where costs are high.

“We disagree with their assessment of critical skills,” the spokesman said. “We have all the critical skills to maintain safe operations.”

With regard to the UK offshore industry, safety experts say it has become more difficult to monitor safety standards because of a large number of contractors now employed by different companies working on oil platforms.

“The multiplicity of contractors offshore…means the safety message gets diluted,” said Danny Carrigan, a health and safety commissioner, speaking at OffshoreEurope, an industry conference.

He also said the industry’s Health and Safety Executive was concerned that workers offshore are reluctant to be seen raising safety issues.

“Some people offshore sometimes feel constrained to put their hand up,” he said.

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