PRESSURE is growing on ministers to exempt oil and gas workers from controversial quarantine hotel requirements amid fears that these could cost hundreds of jobs in the industry.

More than 11,000 signatures have been collected on an online petition to the Westminster Parliament which says the offshore oil and gas industry should be exempted from the quarantine rules. It has been open since Thursday. The Government must respond to petitions that gather more than 10,000 signatures.

READ MORE: Quarantine hotel scheme threatens oil and gas industry jobs

The petition was initiated by oil services heavyweight Stena Drilling, which warned this week that the requirement for its workers returning from overseas to stay in quarantine hotels could take a heavy toll on the morale of the workers affected.

The Aberdeen-based firm has raised the prospect the quarantine requirements could force it to halt some drilling operations, with consequences for jobs.

Its chief executive Erik Ronsberg said the company set up the petition to highlight the concerns it has for colleagues working offshore, and others in similar circumstances facing the new quarantine requirements.

They could mean that employees returning from work on Stena’s drillships off Guyana and Suriname get to spend just two weeks with family members between long spells away from home.

Mr Ronsberg said: “Our offshore crews already quarantine for up to two weeks prior to joining their vessel to minimise any chance of passing on the virus. Dedicated and sterilised aircraft and helicopters are used to ensure no contact with non-quarantined persons, so our crews are actually spending no more than a matter of minutes on foreign soil prior to either joining the vessel ... off the coastline, or coming home.”

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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.”

The North Sea oil and gas industry has fallen into a deep downturn amid the oil price plunge triggered by the coronavirus crisis. Work in overseas markets in which trading conditions are better can help firms offset the impact.

The petition to Parliament also calls for seafarers to be exempted from the quarantine requirement.

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From Monday, the UK Government has required people arriving from 33 ‘red list’ countries, including Guyana and Suriname, 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.