Minimum Manning in a New Climate

A photograph of a man in a hardhat on a oil rig.
Posted in Latest News on June 11th, 2020

At the end of March 2020, OGUK figures showed a decrease in staff numbers on North Sea offshore installations of 40% due to the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.

The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) is now expecting the change in manning levels to last “quite a long time”.

As a result of the pandemic, operators have made changes to help keep workers socially distanced, implementing safety measures such as screens, single-occupancy cabins and staggered working hours, but this raises the question of whether the reduction in personnel leaves enough manpower to keep these platforms running in their current form.

What if platforms didn’t need people; just safe, reliable systems that could be operated remotely? What if the regular intervention required on normally unmanned installations (NUIs) was unnecessary and the operation of manned platforms could be streamlined down to Minimum Manning Levels? This would not only reduce the risk of virus infection, but reduce the risk of injury or death from accidents, decrease costs incurred from living and transport arrangements, improve safety standards, mitigate mistakes caused by human error; and as a further benefit, drive vast improvements to operational efficiency.

In 2018, Servelec Controls achieved just this for Centrica Energy, in an innovative project coined ‘Simplification’. The catalyst for this change was a helicopter crash that tragically claimed seven lives, highlighting the risks to workers travelling offshore. Successful project delivery resulted in a vastly improved level of safety by removing personnel from unnecessary risk. The project also delivered a multitude of ancillary benefits ranging from reduction in operating and insurance costs which ultimately helped deliver a return on their £65million investment inside two years, whilst simultaneously extending the offshore asset life by a minimum of 15 years.

Having proved concept viability, Servelec Controls’ expert engineers are now working with other operators to transform their assets to be remotely operable, but who now have the added motivation of coronavirus spurring them to make rapid changes to protect their workers and their operational costs.

As well as the social distancing advantages of reduced personnel numbers, Servelec Controls’ minimum manning solution provides a vast range of strategically transformative benefits:

  • Improved personnel safety through minimised intervention and removal of helicopter use.
  • Significant Reduction in OPEX
  • Asset life extension
  • Reduce intervention time
  • Optimised operations through state of the art, supportable and future proof technology.
  • Reduced risk profile positively impacting associated insurance costs.
  • Remote operation of offshore platform systems including
  • Alarm Management
  • Asset monitoring
  • Fire and gas detection and control
  • Emergency shutdown, including black start
  • Electrical system monitoring and remote control

According to Chris Stones, Sales Director at Servelec Controls, the transformation of applicable offshore platforms to be remotely operable can provide owner/operators with the operational and financial efficiencies that will help them to adapt to today’s challenging market conditions:

“The disruptive and transformative use of technology can aid in current offshore Oil & Gas installations moving from manned to un-manned whilst being monitored & controlled from a remote on or offshore control centre.

“We are working with a number of UKCS owner / operators to develop and implement solutions that range from complete removal of on-board personnel to the achievement of safe minimum manning levels – both solutions deliver massive improvements in safety, efficiency and OPEX reduction. This all combines to extend the viable asset life and in turn help in the security of domestic energy supply.”

To find out more about how this remote operation solution can help achieve Minimum Manning levels and increase the viability of ageing assets, contact us today.