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Oil and Gas and Fishing Industries Announce Major Progress in Keeping Fishermen Safe

14 May 2009

FLTC Services Limited (FLTC Services) today announced that it has made significant progress in several projects to inform fishermen of seabed structures and equipment related to oil and gas activities on the UK continental shelf (UKCS) and as a result, improve their safety.

Niall Scott, executive chairman of FLTC Services, said: "The oil and gas industry is permitted by law to leave some oil and gas related infrastructure on the seabed following the completion of an approved decommissioning programme but it recognises that this can potentially affect the fishing industry. Therefore, FLTC Services has been working hard to ensure that it builds on the co-operation and mutual support that has long existed between the fishing and oil and gas industries and has now reached a number of significant milestones."

Firstly, with financial help from Shell, FLTC Services has built an international web portal providing fishermen and other mariners from the UK and other countries with enhanced information about the location of oil and gas companies operations in UK waters. The site will make this information available in French, German, Dutch and Norwegian as well as English.

Duncan Cursiter, Fisheries Liaison Officer at Shell, said: "An added benefit is that the information will be available in five languages which will greatly assist in improving the safety of fishermen whose first language is not English."

Secondly, FLTC Services has secured a grant from the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) to meet the first phase costs of developing a replacement for FishSAFE, a unique GPS-based safety device which provides fishermen with audible and visual warnings of seabed obstructions on which fishing nets may become caught. This grant has enabled FLTC Services to place a contract for the production and supply of new devices with Jeppesen Italia S.r.l., a Boeing company.

The project is also supported by Oil & Gas UK, the Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF), the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations (NFFO) and the North Sea Commission.

Mr Scott continued: "The original FishSAFE device, developed in 1998, can no longer be maintained since its internal components are becoming obsolete. FLTC Services is procuring its replacement and the EFF grant will allow us to trial and test it. Once the trial is successfully completed, we intend to supply 300 units to the UK fishing fleet.

"The unit will have state-of-the-art technology with clearer graphics, making it easier to use. The device casing will also be more robust, giving improved performance. We aim to make the new unit available from October 2009 with the help of second phase funding from the EFF."

Thirdly, FLTC Services has taken over responsibility, through the Sea Fish Industry Authority (SFIA), for promoting the capture, processing and dissemination of detailed information on the location and status of pipelines, suspended wellheads, rig moves, temporary seabed obstructions and seismic surveying activities on the UKCS. The project is known as Kingfisher Information Services United Kingdom Continental Shelf or KIS-UKCS.

Mr Scott commented: "FLTC Services will now work with SFIA to provide fishermen and other mariners with detailed information about oil and gas structures and equipment in UK waters. The project is supported by the EFF and we expect to soon receive confirmation that funding has been secured for the next three years.

"Progress made on these three projects in just over a year highlights the value of the FLTC in helping the safety of fishermen. We hope the FLTC will become a model for collaboration between the fishing and oil and gas industries world-wide."