Weather Issues Remaining for Lifeboats

Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Photo courtesy StatoilHydro

The petroleum industry is facing a new autumn and winter with challenges concerning the lifeboats on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS). Throughout the winter, StatoilHydro will have to continue transferring personnel on some platforms in adverse weather conditions. This could affect production.

On Sept. 8 some of the crew on the Visund platform in the North Sea were airlifted to other platforms nearby, or to the mainland.

The number of crew on Åsgard B was also reduced during Monday and Tuesday. This is because of a temporary limitation in evacuation capacity when the waves exceed a certain height in specific wind directions.

However, the weather forecast improved and the situation was normalized so the crew were flown back to the platforms.

During the winter, StatoilHydro will be able to transfer personnel from some platforms without production being affected. In most cases this could mean that maintenance and project work will be postponed.

In extreme cases production could be affected on some platforms during parts of the winter.

StatoilHydro has spent considerable resources in recent years on improving the safety of its lifeboats. Twelve boats have been replaced and improvements have been made to several of the boats used by the group.

The primary means of evacuation in hazardous circumstances or accidents is the helicopter. Lifeboats are important as a secondary means of evacuation and must be able to be used in all situations. Freefall lifeboats have never been used to evacuate a platform on the NCS.

StatoilHydro recently applied to the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) for an extension of an earlier dispensation from the petroleum regulations. The dispensation was approved until 1 October and the company has now asked the authorities to extend this dispensation until 1 May 2010.

This application refers to the Kristin, Kvitebjørn, Troll B and Veslefrikk B platforms.

The dispensation applies to circumstances where weather conditions make it impossible to evacuate remaining emergency personnel in the lifeboats and where it is necessary to use helicopters.

Lifeboat improvements completed since the last application for dispensation:
Kristin: three lifeboats replaced.
Veslefrikk B: three lifeboats replaced.
Troll C: four lifeboats replaced.
Visund: two lifeboats replaced.
Oseberg South: three lifeboats modified.
Njord B: one lifeboat replaced.
Åsgard B: new lifeboat station scheduled for completion in the autumn of 2009.
Statfjord B: two lifeboat stations moved.
Statfjord C: two lifeboat stations moved.
Kvitebjørn: belts/seats upgraded

Modifications related to seats and belts have also been made on other platforms.

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