One would want to understand why such an accident occurred again in Bombay High – the first major Vessel and Platform collision occurred on 27th July 2005, although the magnanimity of asset damage and loss associated with the P305 collision with HC on 17th May 2021 does not seem to be much the full investigation could reveal otherwise, the fact that such an incident re-occurred is proof of the fact that lessons have not been learnt from the 2005 Incident. https://frontline.thehindu.com/the-nation/article30206006.ece – DSV Collides with BHN Process Platform. The loss of life is something the value of which can never be established, ask the families those who have lost their loved ones.
The last I worked in India on a DSV was in 1996 : after that I have been in SEA, to return in 2015, been away for almost 2 decades.
In 1992 – there were three SCI owned DSV Built to Class Notation with an SPHL (Self Propelled Life Boat) , These were the most advanced DSV’s of their times and we had them !! Even today two are operational and one was lost in 2005 (BHN Collision). However there seem to be a GAP , that needs to identified and filled to prevent such incidents and accidents.
Generally most accidents occur due to more than three of the below mentioned factors coming together.
- Lack of Safety Management Framework : Due Diligence.
- Exceeding Operational Parameters.
- Lack of Administrative Control.
- Lack of Experience and Competence.
- Equipment Failure.
- Inadequate Risk Assessment and Management : Emergency Response Plan NOT Defined.
- Absence of High Level of Area Authority to on site to Monitor, Intervene and STOP operations.
- Catastrophic and sudden failure of a Safety Mechanism
Analogy can be drawn for a simple CAR accident.
Below are the 8 aspects that responsible journalism should focus on with the objective of improving the Safety Standards of Vessel Operations and Special Operations in our Oil Fields.
- Vessel approval Process (Vessels that are permitted to operate in the Oil Fields, EEZ and our territorial waters where we have strategic interest), Is there a Govt approved body/institution that is responsible for auditing and approving these Vessels and Operations in Close Proximity of our assets that are HIGH VALUE and HIGH NATIONAL INTEREST? Each offshore platform / jacket cost millions of USD to fabricate, install and commission.
- There are clearly defined International Standard/Safe Operating Guidelines and recommendation for Contractors engaged in Oil and Gas Operations. These primarily come from 1. IMCA (International Marine Contractors Association) – https://www.imca-int.com/ AND 2. IOGP (International Association of Oil and Gas Producers) – https://www.iogp.org/
- Are our Oil and Gas Operators aware of such organizations and does it upheld such guidance’s and recommendations. Who is responsible for ensuring that Marine, Diving and other Critical Oil Field operations are being conducted in accordance to these guidance and recommendations that have been painstakingly compiled from previous such disasters that have occurred across oil fields globally? This is a wealth of knowledge and wisdom that can be used to avert such disasters and improve production and project efficiencies.
- Age of these Vessel, most of the Construction and other Vessels engaged in inspection , maintenance and repair: (that are permitted to operate in the close proximity of such High Value assets i.e. our platform and jackets) are 30+ years old, at a time when any Indian today would think twice before sitting in an ambassador / fiat taxi , what are the underlying reasons for allowing such old vessel with possibly degraded operability and reliability to navigate in close proximity of our oil and gas assets, knowing well that the cost of loss of such an oil and gas producing asset runs into a few hundred millions USD and the overall impact could run into billions of USD. Are there any INDEPENDENT (Not the Client , Not the Contractor) individuals with relevant experience with authority vested in them by the Client himself , onboard such vessel that would intervene to discuss corrective actions before safety parameters are breached that could lead to such a catastrophic incident/accident?
- Is there an Auditing and close out regime for the Vessel, the Safety Management System Assessment of Marine Vessels and Competency of their Crew Operating these Vessels for the purpose the Vessel is being deployed in the oil field, in line with what the International Oil and Gas Operators are recommending through their publications – Refer Point 1 & 2.
- Is there a body of Independent Individuals that act as Subject Matter Experts that are engaged in the planning and subsequently in day to day monitoring of such critical operations as independent sounding boards for decisions that need to be made on the spot that have a direct impact on Project performance and Safety. Across the world all Oil and Gas Operators rely on such Individuals they are referred as SME Subject Matter Experts for special operations in the oil and gas environment like Marine operations and Diving operations. Consideration should be given to creating this pool of INDIAN SME , these are Individual that the nation should treasure for their wealth of knowledge about oil and gas operations having performed to the highest standards for more than 3 decades of their career. India has the highest number of professionals engaged in Offshore Marine and Diving operations across the world. We have the Knowledge pool , they need to be EMPOWERED!
- Finally, where the buck STOP, WHO as a individual is to be held responsible for such catastrophic accidents? Can it be just one individual or a group of Individual or the collective collaborating team involved in Project execution? The root cause is what really needs to be IDENTIFIED, rather that a scape goat!
- The Norwegians and the British have a robust system in place for managing the Safety of their Oil Field assets and Workers, may be we can as a minimum try to emulate/replicate their Safety Management System and draw up our own better suited to our demographics and operational challenges.
It seems that IMO is likely to revise the code for Vessels that operate a Dive Support Vessel to incorporate the the guideline and recommendation from IMCA and IOGP.
There is always a silver lining to any dark cloud, in this case it has been OUR NAVY, hats off of these brave men that risk their lives to save those in peril at sea. I am believer that there is no one greater than a person who risks his own live to save the other. I AM TRULY PROUD OF SUCH MEN OF HONOUR! There are no words to express gratitude to these MEN. SALUTE !! They deserve a standing ovation from the entire nation. Their contribution can never be estimated in monetary terms, it is simply unfathomable at any level of assessment.
The need of the hour is to focus on 2 aspects
– Independent Accident Investigation:
– Developing a ROBUST safety management system that averts such incident/accident from re-occurrence, there is GAP and it needs to be bridged to ensure all stake holders are protected.
May be support should be sough from the Norwegians or the British who have a very robust and a functional Legislative and Regulatory framework to manage Oil and Gas Operations for both of the above.
WHO AM I?
Born 1968: 31 years offshore / subsea oil gas construction industry: 1988 – 2015. 1000+ Commercial Dives and 15,000+ hours in Saturation. Supervised Dives to 225 msw and CSR offshore where Saturation Diving Operations are conducted in excess of 200msw. Qualified to IMCA and OGP Standard for Oil and Gas Diving Operations. Sat Dive Supervisor, Sat Diving Superintendent, Offshore Construction Manager and Client Site Representative. Oil and Gas Subsea Intervention (Diving and ROV Operations) consultant for Oil and Gas Majors like British Petroleum and Shell on Major Oil and Gas Green Field Development Projects. MBA in Business Finance from Cambridge University, UK. About Saturation Diving : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbAxa-_3h6E.
Every offshore Oil and Gas worker (including but not limited) to maritime crew, construction crew, divers and the Naval Men are a NATIONAL asset that are required to protect our 20.4 lakh sq.km of Oceanic EEZ.
Although , I have taken a sabbatical from offshore projects from 2015 and have been focusing on other interests, however I wish to contribute my two cents of knowledge gained from a career that spans three decades in the offshore oil and gas environment through this blog, hoping it will reach the right people, the people who are shaping the future of a better INDIA! I have complete faith in the ability of every INDIAN to RISE! and read this as a constructive summarization of an incident that should have never reoccurred and NOW no effort should be spared to ensure it never re-occurs, a part of the complete guideline and framework that needs to be developed and implemented to move in the right direction. To prosecute such Contractors, leading them to bankruptcy and impounding their vessel / assets serves a myopic purpose, the damage to our multi million dollar asset and loss of lives cannot be reversed, the cost of re-instating the asset should also be accounted for when evaluating the cost of the accident/incident. Moving forward Local Oil and Gas Contractors are an asset to our nation and they should be ENCOURAGED and EMPOWERED to uphold and improve Safety Standards in accordance to INTERNATIONAL standards coming from trade organizations like IMCA and IOGP voice of the global upstream oil and gas industry.
May the souls of those who lost their lives rest in peace and their families find the strength to overcome the tragic loss of their loved one’s.
Hari Om Tat Sat!