One business you have to keep an eye on is the offshore access industry. This industry is growing in a rapid pace and incredible revenues are made by the companies operating in it. However, there are various offshore access solutions, some already existing for thirty years, others brand new. In this article, all the big players in the offshore transport industry will be discussed.
One way to transport personnel offshore is by helicopter. This is the most old-fashioned solution available. It is the most used method of transport in the conservative offshore oil & gas industry. However, it has to be noted that the helicopter has a lot of disadvantages. For example, the helicopter is very dependent of the weather. In adverse weather conditions like fog and storm, the helicopter will not be able to transport the personnel. Furthermore, there have been lots of accidents with the helicopter, leading to injured personnel or even casualties.
CHC Helicopters owns over more than 200 helicopters, and these helicopters transport approximately one million offshore workers per year. CHC Helicopters as distinct disadvantages as described earlier, but is still the biggest player in the market due to conservatism of the biggest market segment the offshore oil & gas industry. The other market segment, the offshore wind industry, uses helicopters occasionally and is less conservative. One advantage CHC helicopters has is the relatively short lead-time. CHC Helicopter has the highest overall costs of all offshore access providers.
Jack-up platforms and boats
Jack-up platforms are the least used in this industry for transporting personnel, mainly because it is very expensive to install such a platform and moreover, it is the least safe transport method. Sometimes boats are used to facilitate the transfer of personnel; this method is mainly used in the offshore wind industry.
Windcat Workboats makes offshore access possible by operating small specialized boats that are directly navigated towards the turbine until it has direct contact to the landing platform. In order to compensate wave motions, the vessel goes to „full throttle 1F, which makes the boat stick to the turbine. However, just like the helicopter, the vessel is very dependent on weather conditions. If wave movements become too high, it is simply way too dangerous to operate. Windcat Workboats only operate in Europe, and their position is strong primarily in the United Kingdom sector.
The newest solution is differentiated systems. They are technological superior to all other described methods. The first prototype operated in 2002, and the first official job for a company was finished in 2007. Differentiated systems have the following advantages:
- Safest solution
- Very reliable. Can compensate wave motions up to 3.5 meters.
It is a question of time before the offshore oil & gas industry will change over to the differentiated systems. However, this can take quite a while, due to the conservativeness of this industry in question.
One of the first companies establishing the differentiated system was Offshore Solutions. Their system can compensate wave motions up to 2.5 meters. They have operated all over the world, and up till now, there were no accidents or casualties.
Ampelmann is another company with a highly differentiated system. The Ampelmann system is superior to other systems. It can compensate wave motions up to 3.5 meters and furthermore, it has the fastest installing time. This is especially important in the offshore oil & gas industry, where time is literally money. This is one of the best companies to start if you are looking for an offshore career.
Uptime Alliance is the newest player in the differentiated systems market and there is not much known about them. Their website is pretty much blank. Uptime Alliance was initiated as a joint venture between Marine Aluminium AS and TTS Energy.
It can be concluded that differentiated systems for the purpose of offshore personnel transfer are superior to other, old-fashioned, solutions such as the helicopter and the jack-up platform. Within the industry of differentiated access systems, the Ampelmann system is the best choice, mainly because of its fast installation time and high reliability.