A prominent Scottish oil services business has warned the requirement for people returning from overseas to spend 10 days in quarantine hotels could harm workers and the finances of many firms amid the downturn triggered by the coronavirus crisis.

Stena Drilling has said the measure fails to take account of the extensive measures it has taken to ensure that people operating in countries the UK Government has deemed high risk, such as Guyana, are not exposed to the virus.

The Aberdeen-based firm’s chief operations officer, Chris Carbaugh, said staff are required to stay in isolation in hotels before travelling to drillships offshore. Strict controls are in place during their journeys to and from the ships and on the facilities themselves. These have PCR test facilities.

“Our guys don’t really represent a risk to public health,” said Mr Carbaugh, adding: “We have not had a single case of Covid-19 offshore.”

Stena runs programmes that have allowed staff working for the firm and other businesses to complete more than 2,100 journeys to Guyana and Suriname.

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Mr Carbaugh said the requirement for staff to stay in quarantine hotels on their return could have a big impact on the morale of workers who had spent weeks doing exacting jobs offshore after isolating on the way out.

It could result in workers only getting around two weeks to rest with their families before having to isolate again in readiness for the return to their drilling ships.

“I just believe this extra 10 days after their trip is just a little too much,” said Mr Carbaugh.

He added: “We are seeing some guys who don’t want to do this. We have had resignations.”

HeraldScotland: A Stena Drilling 'staging facility': Picture Stena Drilling A Stena Drilling 'staging facility': Picture Stena Drilling

The quarantine policy could have worrying financial implications for oil services firms.

In an email sent to business and energy minister Ann-Marie Trevelyan, Stena Drilling’s HR director Trish Craig said: “Having only two weeks at home in such a safety critical industry will be unacceptable and will force us to close the operation down which will put hundreds of jobs in jeopardy.”

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Interruptions to any oil services firm’s overseas operations would be very unwelcome at a time when the North Sea market is flat.

Stena Drilling will pay workers for the days spent in the hotels concerned and cover related hotel bills.

The cost burden could weigh especially heavily on SMEs in the oil and gas supply chain.

“It’s a hit to everybody; for smaller companies it’s a bigger hit,” said Mr Carbaugh.

Stena Drilling is owned by Swedish shipping giant Stena AB.

Mr Carbaugh said Stena Drilling is not calling for oil and gas firms to be given a blanket exemption from the quarantine regulations. However, these should be modified so that firms that have appropriate safeguards in place are recognised.

In her email to Ms Trevelyan Ms Craig asked if might be possible to have a review on a flight-by-flight basis to allow offshore crews to return directly home upon arrival in the UK.

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From Monday, the UK Government has required people arriving from 33 ‘red list’ countries to quarantine in approved hotels for 10 days. The Scottish Government requires people returning from all countries outside the common travel area with Ireland to stay in approved hotels.

Industry body OGUK has expressed concern about the Scottish Government’s policy.

OGUK Health, Safety and Environment Director Trevor Stapleton said: “Skilled Scottish based oil and gas workers who travel overseas to work, typically on a 28/28 rota are now being told they must isolate for 10 days in a quarantine hotel. If you add to this the requirement in most overseas countries to spend time in isolation at the point of arrival and the fact that travel to and from these countries takes at least two days or more, this further restriction imposed by the Scottish Government will mean that many workers will spend less than a week with their families over an eight-week period for just doing their job.

 Mr Stapleton added: “Our request to the Scottish Government is they consider extending existing exemptions to include these workers who arrive from non ‘red-list’ countries, to self-isolate at home and avoid a significant impact on the mental wellbeing of the individual and their families.”