SPECIAL REPORT: NEXT GENERATION OFFSHORE COMBINATION BARGES
One Thing Leads to Another John Hancock, Editor
More offshore resources require more people who all have to be housed in high quality accommodation
Standards of accommodation for offshore workforces have had to progress to keep up with modern expectations and to continue to attract the best workers to spend weeks at a time many miles from shore in often inclement climates doing difficult and challenging jobs
Growth Drives Everything The offshore energy sector, like any other economic sector, is driven by demand which, given increases in population and raised life expectations among an increasing number of countries and people, is currently growing with no obvious end point in sight. Even the recent economic downturn has had less effect on developing and emerging economies who willingly took up any slack in energy demand from the developed world. It is this demand context that has not only made current energy resources more valuable than ever but has also made even the exploitation of lower quality reserves remaining in older fields and less accessible environments profitable. As a result, the now mature offshore energy sector has moved a long way from the functional ‘frontier’ mentality of earlier decades to an established modern industry operating to all of the standards we expect of modern industries. In this context, standards of accommodation for offshore workforces have had to progress to keep up with modern expectations and to continue to attract the best workers to spend weeks at a time many miles from shore in often inclement climates doing difficult and challenging jobs. However, before my colleagues cover the past, present and future developments for offshore accommodation facilities, it is probably a
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good idea, as a background for the paper, to take a brief tour of the current offshore energy industry, how it came to where it is and how the future looks.
A History of Improvement There have been oil wells underwater since at least the nineteenth century, “The first commercial offshore oil rig began drilling in 1947 off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico in just 14 feet of water. Permanent platforms were the first offshore oil rigs to drill successfully in deep waters, followed by the drill ships and semi-submersible offshore oil rigs that became widespread in the 1960s. These could reach to a depth of 1,000 feet. Since then, offshore oil rigs have stayed much the same in basic design, but their capabilities have evolved greatly and the amount of offshore oil rigs in use worldwide has skyrocketed.”1 That reality, with ever rising expectations for quality of working conditions and accommodation, has driven operators to seek more and ever higher quality workforce facilities.
Offshore Energy Today Offshore energy embraces many activities. Technology, equipment and operating methods used in activities conducted under water and
Defence Industry – Special Report on Next Generation Offshore Combination Barges