Leading offshore geotechnical engineering and drilling company Geoquip Marine has adopted a series of stringent measures that enable it to maintain full operational effectiveness in the face of the global Covid-19 viral pandemic.

The company reports that whilst business in its oil and gas markets started to show signs of weakness at the same time as the pandemic took hold, it is a different situation in the offshore renewable energy market, which maintains the rapid growth experienced in the last two years and has shown no signs of slowing down.

As chief executive officer Stewart Higginson observes, the experience Geoquip has of working in the Asia market meant that it was forced to make significant early changes to its operations in the early stages of the pandemic, which meant that it was well prepared when the virus spread globally.

“From the outset we recognised that we had to absolutely prioritise the safety of our staff and our customers and that maintaining the full efficiency of our operation was a secondary consideration to this,” Stewart comments.

“We were fortunate to find ourselves ahead of the curve as the pandemic became a global matter with the measures we adopted in China and Japan in January and February proving invaluable in preparing us for the rest of the world.

“We put together a definitive policy statement in consultation with health authorities, statutory bodies and expert advisors to ensure we are delivering the most appropriate and effective response and we have published this and sent it directly to every member of staff,” says Stewart.

“At the operational level we have had to take stringent measures to ensure that all our assets have been kept absolutely clear of any contamination.”

These measures have included ensuring that a comprehensive education regime was set in place for all staff, with a Covid-19 information awareness pack sent to every employee at all levels of the business. All staff have been instructed not to travel unless it is essential and to work from home wherever possible until further notice.

All staff and third-party contractors deployed on vessels or on site are screened by receiving a health declaration from a line manager and no travel is permitted until this screening has taken place.

On joining a vessel each crew member or third-party contractor is given a temperature check and assessed to determine if they are displaying any Covid‐19 symptoms. Daily updates are sent to all staff detailing symptoms, best practice for personal protection and how to prevent the spread of the virus more widely.

As a result of this, the Geoquip Marine fleet is currently at sea and is working at near full capacity on a range of projects around the world, including in Ireland, Mexico and Malta. Further scopes of work will then follow in Japan and most significantly of all in the US East coast.

“It has been vital to us to maintain our full operational effectiveness because the needs of our clients have not changed, despite the pandemic,” comments Stewart. “We have experienced very rapid growth in the last two years and this has meant that demand has increased exponentially in that time, particularly in the offshore renewable energy market, which has really overtaken our historical core of oil and gas. Our order book is virtually full right through the summer and advanced discussions are ongoing to extend this into the early autumn.

“It is interesting to note that whilst business in oil and gas has once again suffered from an acute drop in confidence, the offshore renewables sector seems to take a more through-the-cycle view on their multi-year development projects, much like you would see with any infrastructure developer. It has been very much incumbent on us therefore to take whatever measures necessary to safeguard our staff and the people they may come into contact with so that we can maintain the service to this sector that it demands.

“Without doubt this pandemic presented a new variety of challenges to our ability to execute our work, and we will need the support and understanding of, amongst others, our clients over this period. I am however very proud of the collective effort of all our staff to date in ensuring that we can safely keep moving our business forward,” Stewart concludes.