Wants to end ban on mobiles

22.11.2013 15:55:28

Industri Energi wants to make another attempt to lift the ban on bringing mobile phones offshore. - Mobile phones have become an important part of people's private lives, says National Officer Henrik Solvorn Fjeldsbø.

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Words: Atle Espen Helgesen

Industri Energi brought up the matter of the ban on mobile phones offshore at a meeting with employer organization the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association this autumn.

- Our members and employee representatives keep contacting us, tired of having to travel offshore without their private mobile phones. Mobiles have become something more than mere telephones," says Henrik Solvorn Fjeldsbø.

He points out that most people have applications, photos, music and stored phone numbers on their mobiles.

According to Fjeldsbø, many offshore workers feel more isolated when they are banned from bringing their mobiles offshore.

- People have become dependent on their mobile phones, but the oil companies and the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association have shown little willingness to ease the restrictions on mobile phones offshore.

He says that the association is met by arguments regarding flight safety and phone batteries not being explosion proof.

A matter for the parties
The Petroleum Safety Authority states in an e-mail to the Industri Energi trade journal that phones that are used in classified areas must be EX-certified.

- The ban on mobiles offshore is a matter of principle which must be resolved by the parties in the petroleum activities, writes spokesman Øyvind Midttun.

Communications Manager Pia Martine Wold at the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association states that they are not launching any initiatives to change the guidelines in this area.

“We have recently looked at the matter, and consulted the different professional environments. The feedback we have received is that mobile phones offshore may entail an increased risk in terms of mobile phones as a potential source of ignition. The aviation environment has advised against changing the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association's guidelines," she writes in an e-mail.

Unnecessarily harsh
National Officer Fjeldsbø believes that the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association has taken an unnecessarily harsh stance on this matter. He sees no reason to keep the ban on mobiles.

- It must be possible to switch off a phone during the helicopter flight, as on ordinary planes. And it should be possible to introduce procedures for use of phones on rigs and platforms, so that there is no heightened risk. For example, mobile phones may only be used in cabins and common rooms, says Fjeldsbø.