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Offshore Support Journal

Offshore Support Journal

Marine consultant launches training programme for 500m zone

Wed 09 Aug 2017

Marine consultant launches training programme for 500m zone
Michael Cowlam: “vessels colliding with a platform have long been considered a major risk for offshore oil and gas installations”

An Aberdeen, UK-based maritime specialist has launched 500m zone management training courses to address concerns raised around offshore installation safety zones


Seacroft Marine Consultants, which provides advice and assistance to offshore operators in all aspects of offshore marine operations, is aiming to raise awareness of the need to control marine operations inside the 500m zone as the UK Health & Safety Executive (HSE) highlights concerns around the control and monitoring of vessels attending installations.

With 97% of collisions occurring within the 500m zone involving vessels there on legitimate business, the company can offer guidance, recommendations and training courses on how to improve existing practices and safety.

Michael Cowlam, technical director at Seacroft Marine Consultants, said “Vessels colliding with a platform have long been considered a major risk for offshore oil and gas installations, and there has of course always been a focus on having procedures in place to address this and try to avoid it occurring.

“While collisions are relatively rare occurrences, there have been a number of incidents in recent years that have led to increasing concern from the HSE and other industry organisations about the potential risks involved.

“Seacroft is able to advise on the responsibilities of an offshore installation’s operator and provide training to improve safety levels and best practice. The industry has also recently published more robust guidance, which would also make a difference to all stakeholders and oil companies to give assurance against the risk of a major catastrophic incident, loss of production and costly damage to their facilities.”

The safety zone is the area extending 500m from any part of an offshore oil and gas installation and is established automatically around all installations that project above the sea at any state of the tide.

Subsea installations may also have safety zones to protect them, which are created by statutory instrument. They exist to protect both the safety of the people working on or in the vicinity of the installation and the installation itself.

Mr Cowlam added “The completion of 500m zone pre-entry check lists is only the starting point and not the solution to preventing incidents. It is crucial to consider monitoring and auditing how installations are managing their 500m zones and marine operations.

“As well as this, planning and communication is essential, along with awareness of both good and bad practices by vessels. This is where we can help, and we would urge any company looking into this aspect of their operations to get in touch with us and find out more.”

With a team of 15 staff and more than 80 consultants, the company has built its reputation in the marine assurance and consultancy sphere. Its expertise includes marine assurance packages, inspections, dynamic positioning (DP) assurance, rig move services, International Safety Management audits, safety audits and incident investigation as well as simulator training in ship handling and bridge team management and specialist recovery and rescue consultancy services.

The company also recently appointed a new marine engineering and DP manager as it looks to develop more specialised offshore marine projects. Richard Pearce has 16 years’ experience in engineering and technical disciplines of the marine and offshore industry, including spells at some of the sector’s most prominent names.

Most recently, he was technical manager at Fletcher Group and service delivery manager at Bibby Offshore in Aberdeen and was responsible for the safe and reliable operation of the company’s offshore support vessels. Mr Pearce has also served in seagoing engineering positions and been technical superintendent and technical manager with major offshore vessel operators.

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