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Malaysian oil and gas industry looks to aviation safety

2nd September 2013 - 10:07 GMT | by Darren Lake in Kuala Lumpur


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The council representing the interest of the oil and gas industry in Malaysia is set to launch an aviation working group to continue to expand its competencies and to better understand the role that aviation and especially helicopters play.

As the majority of oil and gas production is offshore in South East Asia, the region is heavily reliant on helicopters for both transportation and, to a lesser extent, construction. Most platforms are more than 150km offshore meaning that helicopters are needed for speedy transit of personnel and some equipment to and from platforms.

The president of the Malaysian Oil & Gas Service Council (MOGSC), Sofiyan Yahya, told Shephard: ‘We’re particularly dependant on helicopters in the region because most of the exploration and production is offshore.’

He then acknowledged that in some respects the organisation was coming a little late in terms of looking specifically at aviation safety in the sector. MOGSC was formed in late 2003 with the express objective of establishing an association to promote the services of the Malaysian oil and gas industry and has had a general safety group throughout that period.

However, the organisation is only now setting up an aviation working group, with a primary focus on safety. It will be the 18th working group to be established and will further increase the competencies of the organisation.

Sofiyan said that with some 40,000 flight hours per year in the sector in South East Asia it was important to highlight the issue and look at ways to increase safety. 

‘It’s only one small part of what we look at in MOGSC because we cover the whole A-Z so we don’t often think about the transport. But it’s very important because of the danger and any accident would involve a lot of people,’ he stated.

The hope is that the new working group will engage aviation service companies as well as those involved in the construction of platforms and the oil and gas companies that operate them. The continuing growth in the sector, with JP Morgan expecting annual investment in oil and gas to top 8% in the next few years, is also throwing up a number of challenges.

Sofiyan said that one key issue was a lack of experienced helicopter pilots and he said that his organisation would work with government agencies and others to try to fill the gap. Another concern specific to the region was a lack of adequate SAR coverage. ‘What we need is proactive and permanent search and rescue capabilities,’ he argued.

The main objective of the working group will be to raise awareness of these types of issues and of safety in general. ‘It sounds simple, but that is the hard part,’ Sofiyan concluded. ‘Many companies pay lip service to the issue of safety, but we want them to make it central to how they approach everything.’

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