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Offshore workers paid nearly £2,000 extra a week to stay on platform after it caught fire

BP's ETAP facility
BP's ETAP facility

North Sea workers are sleeping in temperatures of -3 degrees and being sent clothing parcels as they operate on a platform with severely reduced “emergency” power supplies.

Oil giant BP is handing out “hardship payments” of nearly £2,000 a week to the 70 still on board the Etap, which caught fire last week.

It is understood it may be next week before power is fully restored to the platform and until then cold food and a handful of showers will be the norm.

One man, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals, said the current conditions on the platform were “ridiculous” and said employees “should never have been placed in this position”.

Staff have also alleged they are being forced to carry out duties on the platform with only LED torches to guide them.

BP said 66 workers were removed by helicopter after the alarm was raised on the platform, which lies 100 miles east of Aberdeen, yesterday.

It later described the fire as “small” and said there had been no injuries, though it did knock out power.

Those who remain on board are being given an extra £250 a day by their employers in recognition of the current working conditions.

The BP employee, however, said: “There are 70 working men on board with six working showers and it is 90% cold food.

“It’s getting as cold as -3 degrees at night and they’re just getting extra clothing sent in, sleeping bags and extra socks.

“BP is the biggest oil company about, they should be treating their men better than that.

“It does not look as though power will be returning until next week.”

A spokesman for BP said the “wellbeing and safety” of those on Etap was their “number one priority” and noted they were working on a “recovery plan” that ensured “comfortable living and working conditions”.

He added: “Progress continues to be made with the provision of hot food, hot water and fresh bedding and clothing.

“In recognition of these difficult conditions and the continued support of the team offshore, BP has implemented a hardship payment of £250 per day, per person.

“Work to resolve the power issue and understand the cause of the fault is ongoing.”

BP said all relevant authorities had been notified of the fire and the steps taken. Etap, the East Trough Area Project, is comprised of several offshore fields being processed through a central hub.

Since starting up in 1998, the fields which are BP-operated at Etap have produced more than 550 million barrels of oil equivalent.

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