- Rescue operations end as all onboard are confirmed dead
- First deadly helicopter crash for industry since 1997
A helicopter flying people from a Statoil ASA-operated oil and gas field offshore Norway crashed on its way to Bergen on the country’s west coast, killing all passengers and crew onboard.
The CHC helicopter carrying 11 passengers and 2 crew members went down around noon on land near Turoey, outside Bergen, coming back from the Gullfaks B platform. Official rescue operations ended at 5 p.m. local time and all have been confirmed dead, according to Norway’s Joint Rescue Coordination Center.
It was the first deadly flight accident in Norway’s offshore industry since 1997, when a helicopter on its way to the Norne field crashed in the Norwegian Sea, killing all 12 onboard. The latest fatality in the industry happened in December, when one person was killed after a wave crashed into a rig contracted by Statoil.
The rotor blade of the helicopter, an Airbus Group Eurocopter 225LP, was found on land while the hull was under water at a depth of 6 meters to 7 meters, according to John Sjursoe, a spokesman for the rescue center.
In the neighboring U.K., helicopter flights were suspended as recently as 2013 after four people were killed in a crash of a machine carrying workers from a rig.
Statoil, which is 67 percent owned by the government, has shut down production at Gullfaks B to take care of the personnel on the platform, news agency NTB reported. The passengers were from several different companies, Arne Sigve Nylund, Statoil’s executive vice president for development and production in Norway, said at a press conference according to NTB.
“It’s a deep tragedy that 13 colleagues aren’t returning home, families are hurt and colleagues lose dear friends,” he said. “It’s a close-knit community out on the platforms and the loss is therefore heavy.”
Eleven of the people on board were Norwegians. There was also one Briton and one Italian.
Norway’s Civil Aviation Authority issued an immediate flying ban for the Super Puma helicopters, of which there are about 20 operating in Norway. CHC was last inspected in September last year, according to the authority.
Norway’s biggest oil and gas company acts as the operator of more than 70 percent of the country’s output. Statoil owns 51 percent of Gullfaks, fully state-owned Petoro 30 percent and Austria’s OMV 19 percent.
Statoil has established a center for next of kin at the Scandic Bergen Airport Hotel.