Deep-Water Lifting: A Challenge for the Industry
As oil and gas developments go deeper, the risk related to lifting operations is increasing. “Existing standards and regulations don’t sufficiently meet this challenge and this is why DNV now has initiated a joint industry project to ensure a unified safety approach. Fourteen key international offshore players have joined the project,” says Robert A. Oftedal, DNV’s Business Development Leader, Cranes & Lifting.
The development of subsea cranes and lifting appliances has been driven by constant demand for increased lifting capacity, operations in greater water depths and motion compensating systems. This has introduced several technological challenges related to ensuring the reliable execution of subsea lifting operations so that objects can be safely placed on and removed from the seabed.
Ensuring proper design and correct operation, as well as regular inspection and maintenance, is crucial for not only the reliability of a lifting appliance, but also the safety of the personnel and equipment involved.
According to DNV, subsea lifting standards and regulations have not followed the steep curve of technological progress. “Instead, the required safety level has been defined by clients’ specifications, technological boundaries and manufacturers’ considerations, rather than regulatory documents acknowledged by all the stakeholders involved. Some client specifications may also be based on vessel-to-platform lifting and not subsea lifting. This situation is a challenge when contracting new equipment,” Oftedal explains.
While various measures are undertaken by different parties, implementing standards and regulatory requirements has proven to be one of the most efficient ways of reducing the risks involved in offshore operations.
“This is why DNV has invited the industry to develop a unified approach concerning important aspects of subsea lifting. The aim is to increase efficiency and safety during the equipment’s design, operation and maintenance phases,” he says.
Fourteen key industry players have joined the project and will present their conclusions in a Recommended Practice within a year. The participants are: Statoil, Petrobras, Lundin Norway, Marathon Oil Norge, Technip, Subsea7, SAIPEM, Heerema Marine Contractors, Cargotec, Liebherr Werk Nenzing, TTS Energy, Huse Engineering (incl. Rolls-Royce), SamsonRope and W. Giertsen Services.
Source: DNV, February 7, 2012; Image: Heerema