Deepwater Horizon – Saviours Beware

 Accident, explosion, fire, maritime safety, offshore, offshore  Comments Off on Deepwater Horizon – Saviours Beware
Apr 292010

Vessels responding to situations like that of Deepwater Horizon may encounter unexpected hazards with which they are unfamiliar and which are not immediately apparent.

A respondent on the gCaptain forum, Nomad, warns: “For any mariners responding to distress calls in circumstances such as this, it’s a good idea to stop – look – listen – before approaching too close. In this specific case, the venting hydrocarbons were ablaze, but in some cases there is no fire, just an uncontrolled flow. The presence of high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide gas is always a consideration, even with oil blowouts as there is often a gas component to the reservoir fluid.”

Hydrogen Sulphide, H2S, dangers are well known to offshore workers and vessels servicing them are usually equipped with H2S meters and alarms but others, such as fishing vessels will not. H2S is characterised by a ‘rotten eggs’ smell but the gas itself can disable the sense of smell in higher concentrations.

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Musing On Ike

 maritime accidents  Comments Off on Musing On Ike
Sep 192008

As battered offshore oil and gas platforms come back to life in the gulf of Mexico and merchant shipping gets back to normal in the wake of Hurricane Ike MAC mused upon a few questions and put them to our ‘Man in the Mexican Gulf’, a US Coast Guard commander involved in the operation to prevent a big blow becoming a maritime catastrophe.

Those familiar with the MAC podcasts The Case Of The Errant Hookers and The Case Of The Unlucky Hooker will know that warning and suggestions for precautions are sometimes not heeded, with results we know all too well, with results we all know too well.

MAC wondered whether commercial vessels, in particular those from outside the US, respond appropriately to the warnings that were issued? Apparently they did, although not necessarily of their own volition. Vessels of more tha\n 500 Gross tonnes were under mandatory VTS requirements and had to heed Captain of the Port Hurricane Port condition requirements.

MAC was told: ” The USCG Captain of the Port has a lot of authority here to control the movement of vessels and impose strict safety guidelines for the placement and disposition of vessels. As a preventative measure, we ordered all vessels remaining in port to submit applications and relay their mooring arrangements, etc to determine safe harborage. ”

Most problems were encountered with vessels under that size. While larger vessels handling navigation and anchor handling in bad weather quite well it appear that there is a need more familiarity among vessels smaller than 500 gross tonnes.

Oil and gas production platforms evacuated well in advance and took precautions appropriate to the predicted conditions. Losses and damage of the 3,800 platforms in the gulf was limited and mainly involved older facilities. Safety issues are generally dealt with by the US Minerals Management Service, MMS, which might review the weather hardiness of older rigs.

All in all, quite a creditable performance.

Ike – 28 down, 3,772 To Go

 accident reporting  Comments Off on Ike – 28 down, 3,772 To Go
Sep 182008

Hurricane Ike has destroyed some some 28 oil and gas production platform in the Gulf Mexico and several others have been significantly damaged, reports the US Minerals Management Service, MMS. Casualties include three jack-up rigs destroyed, and one severely damaged while two rigs that were earlier reported to be drifting have been secured.

Daily production losses have been initially estimated at 11,000 barrels of oil and 8.2 million cubic feet of gas. Production from the Gulf of Mexico accounts for 25 percent of the oil and 15 percent of the natural gas produced in the US. As of June 2008, daily production estimates for the Gulf of Mexico were 1.3 million barrels of oil and 7.0 billion cubic feet of gas. Since then, gas production from the Independence Hub facility increased and in August 2008 gas production from the Gulf was estimated at 7.4 billion cubic feet of gas per day from some 3,800 platforms ranging from single well caissons in water depths of ten feet to a large complex facility in water depth greater than 7,000 feet.

“To date, most of the destroyed platforms include older facilities with small levels of production,” says Lars Herbst, regional director, MMS Gulf of Mexico Region. “We expect additional reports of damage as the weather allows more flights and operators are able to board the platforms and begin inspections.”

Early reports also indicate that there is some pipeline damage. The full extent of damage will not be available until operators are able to test the systems.

MMS has been conducting helicopter fly-overs to investigate reports of oil spills/sheens. While it is too early for definitive reports, there was one reported sheen as of September 15, 2008 estimated to be nine barrels; subsequent investigations showed that the sheen had dissipated.

Scaring The Pants Off A Big Rig

 accident reporting  Comments Off on Scaring The Pants Off A Big Rig
Jun 122008
If nothing else, offshore oil and gas production platforms can be useful waypoints but there's a good chance you could be scaring the pants off the folk on the rig and its standby vessel and playing havoc with production.

Russell Robertson of Step Change In Safety explained it thusly:

"The problem from the rig / installation side is that at around 20 NM, the vessel which is probably using the unit as a convenient way point becomes, to all intents and purposes, an errant vessel and potential threat because it is on a collision course with the unit.

"The fact that, at around 5 -7 nm, the vessel will change course and go off to ruin someone else's day cannot be assumed by the rig and standby vessel. I just feel that the marine staff on the vessel need to be aware of the disruption that happens on a drilling rig or production unit when this situation occurs."

Despite the resultant havoc, these incidents rarely get officially logged because the vessel doesn't enter the 500 metre zone around the rig or drill ship. Still, there are enough casses of ships clobbering platforms that there's no room for complacency.

So, give a thought to the folk on the rig and help them keep their pants on.