Helicopter flights off Europe still crippled

Although helicopter transportation off Northern Europe remained crippled by a cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland Apr. 20, there were no reports of disrupted oil and gas production.

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Apr. 20
-- Although helicopter transportation off Northern Europe remained crippled by a cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland Apr. 20, there were no reports of disrupted oil and gas production.

The trade group Oil & Gas UK reported that some of its operator members had begun “scaling back on certain nonessential activities.” Crew changes had been disrupted.

NATS, the UK air traffic control authority, suspended routine helicopter flights to oil and gas facilities on the UK continental shelf on Apr. 15 as a volcanic ash moved into the area, threatening to disable aircraft engines (OGJ Online, Apr. 15, 2010).

The ash cloud suspended thousands of airline flights to and from Europe.

On Apr. 20, NATS said parts of Scottish airspace were intermittently open. The area included Aberdeen, an important base for helicopters serving offshore oil and gas installations.

In the southern UK, airspace below 20,000 ft remained closed.

Off Norway, airspace was closed Apr. 20 after having been open at times.

“The oil installations in the North Sea are covered by the cloud,” reported Avinor, the Norwegian aviation authority.

Avinor said all European authorities were basing aviation decisions on ash-dispersal forecasts issued every 6 hr by the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in the UK Met Office.

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