OFFSHORE workers should be routinely tested for Covid-19 to speed up the recovery from the pandemic, the industry body has said.

The oil and gas industry has been forced to cut the number of workers deployed offshore to around 40 per cent of the usual workforce due to social distancing and other Covid-19 restrictions.

Oil and Gas UK has warned that “asymptomatic testing for our critical workforce will be a key part of the recovery phase for the industry” and will allow the sector to increase the number of people that can work offshore in a safe manner amid the pandemic.

The industry body said it has made a “robust case” to both the Scottish and UK governments for asymtomatic testing to be rolled out, believing “there is additional capacity” for the tests to take place.

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Thousands of workers have already lost their jobs due to the pandemic – and the industry is keen to be able to increase the number of people that can work offshore.

Trevor Stapleton, Oil and Gas UK’s health, safety and environment director, said: “As we move into the recovery phase – which will mean increasing POB (personnel on board) offshore – a missing piece of the jigsaw is still asymptomatic testing for our offshore workforce, carried out using the NHS UK test centres and we continue to make the case for this with both the UK and Scottish governments.

“Now is not the time for us to become complacent and we will be paying close attention to the figures going forward.

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“The coronavirus pandemic is of a scale and severity which none of us have seen before, but we shouldn’t take for granted the true value of the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry’s culture of safety.”