New weather prediction tool to improve the safe operation of moored offshore facilities

A new type of forecasting capability will help the oil and gas industry in Australia better prepare for the impacts of marine weather, potentially avoiding operational delays and costly damage from unexpected conditions.

14 June 2014

New Zealand company MetOcean Solutions is launching Offshore Motion Forecasts, a new product that delivers reliable hour-by-hour predictions on how wave, current and weather conditions will affect the response of floating offshore facilities. 

The predictions are calculated for a specific location and vessel, and will help offshore operators plan ahead to mitigate against any possible disruptions caused by a particular alignment of marine conditions, as well as more routine situations involving adverse weather.

Just this month, there have been news reports of poor weather causing off-shore oil fields to close, suspending the production of tens of thousands of barrels of crude oil, and resulting in millions of dollars in losses every day.

Dr Peter McComb, Managing Director of MetOcean Solutions, says the effect of vessel roll motion on operations is a major challenge to the increasing number of floating facilities in the continental shelf and deepwater locations around the world. Being able to plan ahead using reliable predictions will provide significant advantages.

“Many of the facilities on board these vessels are not designed to operate in rolling conditions, which can occur when the waves, winds and currents are not similarly aligned. These moored vessels will weathervane in response to the environmental conditions, and sometimes the vessel can find itself beam on to distantly-generated swells. These waves typically have a period range that will excite the rolling motion of the vessel, and that’s where the problems start,” he said.

MetOcean Solutions’ Offshore Motion Forecasts module solves the problem with a set of analytical equations that will work for any floating facility, such as a floating production storage and offloading vessel (FPSO). Using the specifications of the vessel (e.g. length, beam, draft, etc.), the marine weather forecast is overlayed to first predict the orientation of the vessel, hour-by-hour for the next seven days. Then, the heave, pitch and roll of the vessel are calculated for the seven-day forecast horizon.

Dr McComb says this information will help offshore companies make informed operational decisions for their floating facilities, based on the upcoming marine weather conditions.

“For example, they might need to load important equipment over the next few days, and if the forecast predicts unsafe roll motions they could request tug assistance to reorient the vessel and mitigate the roll motion.”

The new tool will be offered to oil and gas operators, as well as to the support industries in Western Australia in the last quarter of 2014.  

View further information on marine weather solutions for the offshore oil & gas industry.

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