The PSA takes a positive view of new offshore development solutions – as long as safety has been taken care of.
Simple but still safe
All installations on the NCS must be built in accordance with the facilities regulations, which do permit the use of simpler solutions for small structures without quarters.
A number of these facilities have been installed on the NCS since they were permitted in 2001. When personnel need to go aboard such units, they are ferried to and fro by helicopter.
New solutions have been introduced in recent years, and several companies are now planning to adopt “walk-to-work” (W2W) concepts where personnel live on a vessel and cross to the platform via a gangway.
A case in point is the Oseberg West Flank 2 project, which comprises a concept new to the NCS – a fixed unstaffed wellhead platform designated Oseberg H.
This is the first facility to be approved for use on the NCS without emergency accommodation or a helideck. Instead, it will be tied to a support ship at times when personnel need to be aboard.
“In such a concept, the support vessel will take care of safety functions which are normally located on the facility,” explains Ove Hundseid at the PSA.
“Evacuation will take place to the ship rather than to a platform lifeboat, for example. Because the installation is so dependent on the vessel, we regard this as a single integrated unit.”
He heads a work group in the PSA which is assessing the regulations in this area and will propose possible amendments. The aim is to update the rules in line with technological advances.
“W2W present some challenges, since the Norwegian HSE regulations weren’t written with this type of solution in mind,” Hundseid explains.
“In addition, the industry is now planning developments where such simpler facilities are also designed to carry process facilities.
“But the regulations mustn’t put obstacles in the way of the opportunities which these solutions offer – as long as operations can be conducted prudently.”
Plans call for proposed regulatory amendments to be circulated for consultation during 2017.