Subsea services provider Bibby Offshore has become the first to deploy a new diving safety system in the North Sea.

The Compact Bailout Rebreathing Apparatus (COBRA), which is capable of working at depths of up to 110m, was provided as part of a contract with BP North Sea.

Divers operating for Bibby Offshore used COBRA to deliver electrical umbilical installation, subsea control module change-out, production and controls system integrity testing and deisolation and commissioning services in the North Sea.

“The safety of our personnel is paramount at all times,” said Bibby Offshore chief executive Howard Woodcock.

“COBRA significantly enhances the time our saturation divers have to return to the diving bell in an emergency situation—a step-change in improving subsea safety and one we will adopt in the future across our fleet.

“As leaders in diving safety, it is imperative that our divers are equipped with the best equipment and leading technology.

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“Having the full support of the client for the introduction of the COBRA rebreathers during operations on its offshore assets clearly demonstrates the alignment between the client and Bibby Offshore in an ongoing commitment to advancements in industry safety.”

COBRA was developed by underwater capability provider JFD and offers divers up to 45 minutes of fully-independent breathing gas in an emergency situation.

“The COBRA system has been rigorously tested and has a proven ability to significantly extend the provision of emergency life support without impacting the operations of diver, allowing them to carry out their duties with minimal risk,” said Giovanni Corbetta, managing director at JFD at COBRA’s launch in 2015.

“Our entire focus and commitment as a company is founded upon improving diver safety and setting new benchmarks within the industry.”

BP’s use of the pioneering technology comes just a few months after Bibby Offshore was rescued from debt by lenders agreeing to a refinancing programme in return for full ownership plus a £50m cash injection.

Bibby’s new owners, Jersey-registered Fara Holdco, also agreed to waive debt totalling £140m.