Dynamic positioning key to the Gulf offshore industry

Middle East Workboats session addresses need for skilled operators.
HOS Shooting Star uses dynamic positioning.
HOS Shooting Star uses dynamic positioning.

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The operational challenges and costs faced by the offshore maritime industry in recruiting and retaining qualified operators to safeguard standards within the dynamic positioning (DP) vessel sector are to be discussed at the Middle East Workboats & Offshore Marine 2013.

There are a significant number of DP-equipped vessels currently in operation in the Gulf, with the majority of new build deep water vessels opting to fit DP during the construction phase.

This increasing use of DP means that there is growing demand for highly qualified personnel, at a time when many existing operators are in full time employment and the numbers of those newly-qualified are still learning the trade, leaving employers struggling to adhere to stringent operational safety standards.

Andrew Brown, group business development manager, Smit Lamnalco, said: “The growth in DP vessels is driving the demand for skilled manpower, and the position of a DP operator is gaining increasing prominence.

“A number of companies are developing increasingly complex systems, and training is key to ensuring you have qualified DP officers on board who are fully trained on the DP system.”

It is not only a lack of quality crew that is affecting the industry – not having DP installed on a vessel can increase the chance of having an accident which in turn can be costly.

“Floating production vessels not using DP are at risk from powerful winds, waves, and currents, which can hamper the ship’s ability to maintain its position and secure stable connections to the sea floor,” said Emma Howell of the Middle East Workboats & Offshore Marine 2013.

“During a North Sea storm in 2011, four of the ten mooring chains securing the Maersk Gryphon FPSO broke, forcing a lengthy shutdown. The overall loss to Maersk is thought to be in excess of US$1 billion.”

Investment in DP training is also a major red flag area for the industry. Companies are investing in DP simulation and training programmes, but it is the required periods of supervised shipboard learning that are a drain on both the time and availability of senior company personnel.

To qualify, aspiring DP operators must complete an induction course, then undertake a minimum of 30 days of DP familiarisation at sea, followed by a further advanced course. The operator must then complete a minimum of 180 days watch keeping on a DP ship and only then can a statement of suitability be given by the master of the DP vessel.

“This leaves companies little room to manoeuvre, especially when faced with administration of the requisite periods of shipboard learning, which require the commitment and expertise of senior personnel and shipmasters,” added Brown.

This year’s event line-up includes the inaugural Global Workboat Technology Forum in strategic partnership with Saudi Aramco, on October 1 at which international experts will present a series of technical papers on industry agenda-leading topics, with dynamic positioning capability and systems development dominating the final day’s debate on October 2.

Middle East Workboats & Offshore Marine 2013 has already confirmed more than 165 exhibitors for this year’s event which will offer business and social networking both in the conference sessions and on the exhibition floor. Exhibitors for the 2013 edition include ABS, Etihad Ship Building, IRSHAD, Stanford Marine and Topaz Energy and Marine.

The event takes place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) from September 30-October 2, 2013

See www.middleeastworkboats.com


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