Confucious said, “A man who does not think and plan long ahead will find trouble right at his door.” This is certainly true for every offshore operator. Weather conditions are becoming increasingly volatile, and managing that risk is essential for ensuring a project’s success.
Knowing how to plan and execute your offshore operations means having accurate and reliable weather intelligence. First, this article will discuss the types of severe weather that face offshore assets. Then, we will analyze how they affect your operations, and how you can mitigate your risk using weather intelligence and DTN’s Metocean Services.
Weather Risk Management for Offshore Activities
Climate change has created an environment where severe weather quickly becomes the most dangerous risk an offshore operation will face. Unfortunately, this risk is also one of the most difficult to quantify.
With no end in sight, this dangerous reality has led many organizations to reassess their weather risk management strategies and put policies in place that will better prepare them for severe weather events like hurricanes or typhoons. In its purest form, risk management involves identifying, analyzing, and mitigating any risk that will affect performance on the operations. Let’s first identify the dangers that severe weather poses for offshore activities.
Identifying the Dangers
Weather is one of the most dangerous risk factors for an offshore operation. It can be highly hazardous to personnel and facilities, cause significant delays in an offshore project schedule, and result in huge losses for the client or operator. Moreover, it is challenging to assess its impact on operations, increasing a company’s risk exposure.
Each year around 100 tropical waves and disturbances develop between May and November over the North Atlantic Ocean. Roughly a third develop into tropical depressions. Of that 15-25 become tropical storms, 5-10 become hurricanes, and 2–3 will likely strike the US coast.
Let’s outline some of these main weather events that impact offshore activities.
Hurricanes (Tropical Cyclones)
Hurricanes occur more or less each year on the Gulf Coast, the home to many offshore rigs. As time goes on, hurricanes are becoming increasingly common and more dangerous. For example, Hurricane Ida had 150 mile-per-hour (240 kph) winds, which halted most offshore oil and gas production for three weeks. It also caused significant damage to platforms, pipelines, onshore support facilities, and housing for employees.
High waves can make it difficult for transport to and from offshore operations anywhere globally. As well, the waves can damage ships and offshore facilities. Offshore platform heights have increasingly risen to increase the reinforced foundation to withstand high waves. Wave crests can generate pressure that can exceed several thousand pounds per square inch.
Wind speeds can reach up to 185 km per hour (115 mph), causing even the largest offshore structures to shake or vibrate.
Low temperatures are also a risk that must be considered, depending on the offshore rig’s location, such as the North Sea. When low temperatures are below freezing for long periods, it can cause issues with equipment and pipelines.
Now that we have identified some of these risks, let’s analyze the damage they could cause your offshore operation.
Consequences of Severe Weather Events
There are many consequences to offshore operations when severe weather hits.
Lost Production and Shutdowns
The most often encountered risk from severe weather is to delay or stop production. As mentioned, Hurricane Ida resulted in virtually all oil production stopping in that area for three weeks. The total crude supply loss could amount to 30 million barrels, making it the most damaging hurricane to hit the Gulf’s oil production industry since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The economic fallout from lost production is enormous and can easily exceed hundreds of millions, if not billions. When production is halted, the client or operator will lose revenue. Moreover, the financial impact of lost production can extend beyond a short-term shutdown to damage to equipment and facilities that could take months or even years to repair.
Damages from Extreme Weather Events
Extreme weather events such as hurricanes, high waves, and intense windstorms can cause significant damage to equipment requiring inspections and remediation. Those repairs can be very costly.
Diversion of Resources to Repair Damage
When an offshore operation is halted due to severe weather, it may require significant time and effort before production can resume at full capacity. The time it takes to get back to full capacity will delay the project schedule, increasing costs for the client or operator.
Operators and Staff
Severe weather puts your crew at risk. Depending on the weather event and your location, you may face high waves or intense wind that can be dangerous for those working offshore.
When there is a loss of operations due to severe weather, it puts additional stress on operators as they now have to find ways to divert their crew from other projects during this period and try to reschedule work for when production can commence.
Risk Management Strategies
While you cannot prevent inclement weather, you can plan for it. Every offshore operator will have risk management strategies to determine what to do when faced with extreme weather.
Every risk management strategy relies upon one key ingredient: vital weather intelligence.
With the right data analysis, you will be able to accurately predict when you will have weather windows available to complete maintenance and safely travel to and from your offshore operations. The right support means that you will have all the facts that you need to make informed decisions.
Your offshore project is unique, and therefore, you need data that applies to your location and the hazards you will face. You also need more than data – you need the insight and expert analysis to make your numbers make sense.
What you need is DTN’s Metocean Services. DTN creates Metocean consultancy reports tailored to your requirements, focusing on the conditions most important to your operations. By combining the most accurate model data with the expertise of an experienced Metocean engineer, we deliver such reports as extreme value analysis and/oror operability studies on the wind, wave, currents, among others.
When you need to strengthen your operational intelligence, you need our reliable data and leading expertise. Find out how DTN’s Metocean Services can help you face whatever storm comes your way.