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Tougher lifeboat requirements

July 25, 2006, 09:00 CEST

Pioneering work by Statoil and the Norwegian Oil Industry Association (OLF) may drive a new international lifeboat standard.

Alf Morten Sirevaag has been nominated for this year's ONS award for health, safety and environment for his work on the lifeboat project. (Photo: Øyvind Hagen)

The lifeboat project was initiated after weaknesses were discovered last year on six free-fall lifeboats on the Kristin platform in the Norwegian Sea and the Veslefrikk B platform in the North Sea. The boats sustained superstructure damage during testing. Alf Morten Sirevaag, senior engineer in Statoil, has headed the lifeboat project.

”The current international standard is too general," Mr Sirevaag says. "The past year’s pioneering work is expected to drive a new standard. Neither the buyers, nor the sellers, have been aware of the dynamics of the forces exerted during a free fall. Weaknesses have been discovered on several boat types.”

The original purpose of the project was to analyse the skid-launched lifeboats with weaknesses on Veslefrikk B and Kristin. The project was later extended. All of the 14 types of free-fall boats used on the Norwegian continental shelf have been tested in the past year.

Both model testing and physical full-scale testing have been performed. Almost 5000 tests, both in calm waters and under different wave conditions, have been performed at Marintek in Trondheim. Pending a new international standard the oil industry now tightens up its own requirements.

”Based on knowledge gained through the project we have now established much stricter requirements for new lifeboat purchases,” Mr Sirevaag says. ”New specifications will be developed.”

After weaknesses in one boat type from the producer Umoe Schat-Harding was discovered last year, it was soon established that another boat from the same producer had similar superstructure weaknesses.

”We notified all users of this lifeboat, and last autumn the Norwegian Oil Industry Association (OLF) got involved in the project. Also a network of operators and drilling companies take part,” says Mr Sirevaag, who has been nominated for the this year’s health, safety and environment award granted by the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway and Offshore Northern Seas (ONS) 2006.

Tests have also revealed a slight risk of compression of the roofs and walls in certain lifeboats from the producer NorSafe. Teams on five platforms have been involved in reinforcement work on 56 lifeboats since June. 25 have been completed so far, and all boats with weaknesses will be reinforced by 1 October.

There are a total of 211 free-fall lifeboats on the Norwegian continental shelf, half of which are located on Statoil-operated installations.