Offshore Access

One of the fastest growing industries at the moment is the offshore access business. This relatively young industry was born when offshore oil & gas companies wanted to transfer personnel and goods from boats to oil platforms on sea. In order to do this, offshore access solutions were needed. The demand for this service grows rapidly and various solutions were developed to satisfy this demand. However, there are many differences between these methods and the purpose of this article is to describe the pros and cons of each offshore access solution.

The Helicopter

The helicopter is the oldest offshore access method. It has already been used since the seventies of the previous century. It is especially popular in the offshore oil & gas industries; companies like Shell use this offshore access method a lot. However, the helicopter has many disadvantages such as much down time due to adverse weather conditions and the high chance of accidents.

There have been quite some accidents in the past with the helicopter, leading to severely injured personnel or even casualties. Offshore disasters have to be avoided at all costs, since this can damage the reputation of both the offshore access provider and the client in question. The only advantage of the helicopter is the fast lead time.

Windcat Workboat

The Windcat Workboat is some sort of vessel that is used to connect to offshore platforms. It works like follows: When the boat has targeted a platform to connect, it goes full throttle, in order to ‘stick’ to the offshore platform. This method of transferring personnel offshore is especially popular in the offshore wind industry, where it is used to maintain offshore wind turbines.

The Windcat Workboat is a bit of an all-rounder, it is relatively safe, but the biggest downside is that the boat cannot operate when wave motions are higher than 2.5 meters. Finally, the boat is cheap to use for offshore personnel transfers.

Heave Compensated Gangway

The latest invention in the offshore access industry is the heave compensated gangway. This is a machine with five or six hydraulic legs able to compensate wave motions due to the same technology that is used in flight simulators. The flight simulator technology assesses wave heights and adjusts the hydraulics legs accordingly. The heave compensated gangway is the safest and most reliable method in use. It uses and extendable gangway to connect to the targeted platform. Moreover, it is the cheapest offshore access method in the long run. It is also known as the offshore access system.