Hi-tech marine weather guidance for offshore scientific survey

Shell New Zealand New Caledonia Basin Offshore Seismic Survey

Shell New Zealand has deployed offshore marine weather guidance from MetraWeather and science partner MetOcean Solutions to successfully undertake scientific research in the remote New Caledonia Basin.

The research commenced in December and concluded in late-March 2016. It was undertaken to better understand the geology and prospectivity of the Basin, an area situated some 250 to 1,000 km to the North-west of the North Island. The area covers 147,000 km2 and is relatively unknown from a scientific perspective.

The surveyed area can often present a challenging marine environment, where highly-accurate and location-specific weather forecasting is vital.

Shell and its partners contracted the 2D seismic survey vessel, the Hai Yang Shi You 718, to tow the array and sailed from the port of New Plymouth.

Twice-daily the vessel’s crew, a smaller support vessel, and Shell’s geotechnical headquarters received comprehensive and site-specific marine weather forecasts delivered in accordance with the vessels’ relayed position in the Tasman Sea.

The forecasts were delivered over the MetOcean Solutions’ online dashboard known as MetOceanView (MOV).

The forecasts outlined in detail the anticipated wind speed, significant wave height and swell period, the risks for squalls and tropical cyclones, and the overall expected weather conditions.

This data was available in both graphical and tabular format, with data every 3 hours over the next 7 days.

MetraWeather meteorologists analyse a suite of weather data, including global-scale and meso-scale weather model output. A localised version of the SWAN model was used to generate detailed forecasts about the sea state. Both the weather and sea conditions were checked for accuracy in real-time by comparing 10-minute Himawari 8 satellite imagery and buoy observations.

When there was a possibility of inclement weather conditions, MetraWeather forecasters were proactive in making Shell aware of that possibility as soon as possible, even if there was a low probability of a high-impact event.

One-on-one weather briefings were available at all times from the specialist marine forecasting bench in MetraWeather’s headquarters in Wellington, New Zealand.

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