Norsk Hydro Responds to Lifeboat Request from the PSA

Hydro sent a letter to the Norwegian Petroleum Safety Authority outlining the measures taken by the company following new trials to test lifeboat operation in difficult conditions.

"We have confidence in the lifeboats as evacuation vessels, but have implemented certain restrictions on some platforms during special weather conditions," says Gunnar Breivik, who heads up Health, Safety & Environment (HSE) in the Operations sector of Hydro's Oil & Energy business area.

Trials conducted using models at Marintek’s facility in Trondheim have shown that Type FF48 lifeboats are too slow in getting away from the platform in certain weather and wave conditions.

The majority of platforms have lifeboats positioned on various sides of the platform. This means that crews can deploy other lifeboats if strong winds and high waves on one side of the platform inhibit the use of the lifeboats there. The Troll B platform is equipped with lifeboats on one side only.

"As a consequence of this we have introduced operational limits on the use of lifeboats in certain wind conditions when wave heights of over 9 meters are forecast. In these conditions, which statistically happen very seldom, the offshore installation manager will shut down production and reduce manning to a minimum. Our primary evacuation method is by helicopter," says Breivik.

Breivik points out that the uncertainties surrounding lifeboat improvements have been acknowledged by the joint lifeboat project.

"First we had to provide the resources to evaluate the situation and take measures to improve the superstructure of the lifeboats while increasing the safety of the personnel on board. We believe this has been the right priority. In phase two of the project, which has now begun, we are concentrating on the question of improved speed of departure and the other challenges posed. Improved speed of departure is a central issue in our current efforts to develop a new standard for lifeboats," says Breivik.

Troll B and central Hydro HSE representatives have actively contributed to evaluating the test results and to shaping the limitations introduced.


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