Frogging Away from the Offshore Platform

I know that sometimes these posts can get fairly deep technically. Being Friday, here’s one I hope you won’t find so deep. It’s about an email I received from one of our very senior SureService engineers, Randy Pratt, who was recently out working with an offshore oil and gas producer. These stories are especially near and dear since this is the industry I worked in as a systems engineer to begin my career.

Whisking in by Helicopter to Offshore Platform
For those that have never been out to an offshore platform, it’s a whole ‘nother world of steel, pipes and equipment. Typically, you whisk in and whisk out on a helicopter to take care of the business that needs tending to. For Randy, that meant doing a Premier Service visit where he spent several days with the systems engineers and technicians looking at all maintenance aspects of their DeltaV system. This visit also provided the opportunity for Randy to answer questions and share his experience gained over the years.

Frog Lift from Offshore Platform
Now after a few days out on the platform, Randy was ready to head back. Unfortunately, the expected “whisk out” part was not possible. A hydraulic pump on the helicopter failed during the pre-flight checks. The good news is that it was discovered while the helicopter was on the helipad and not while in flight back to the main island, a trip of 80 kilometers or 50 miles.

Frog Lift Safely Lands on Boat
Randy got to experience the other way to get off of an offshore platform, via boat. Back when I did this in the mid 1980s in the Gulf of Mexico, we typically used a rope swing from the platform’s boat landing out to the crew boat. When there were swells in the Gulf, you had to be pretty good at timing your swing to make sure the boat was on the way up. It was a little tricky to go from a stationary platform to a moving landing target.

It’s gotten a little more high-tech in the decades that have passed. Randy got to be “frogged” which means being lowered in a personnel transfer capsule by crane down to the boat below.

Randy concluded his adventure with a three-hour boat ride back to mainland, followed by more conventional means of transportation back to Austin.

I just wanted to share this interesting working slice of life for those of you not in the industry.

Update: I just received an email letting me know that the pictures which I upload to Flickr were being blocked by this person’s IT organization… *&%$#&*. I like using Flickr because it thumbnails the photos, allows me to tag them, and creates the HTML code for me to paste into these posts.

Please let me know whether these pictures are being blocked at your site. Here’s the three pictures:

WhiskingInByHelicopter.jpg

FrogLiftFromOffshorePlatform.jpg

FrogLiftOnToBoat.jpg

I’m also curious if any other social media sites are being blocked (YouTube, LinkedIn, FaceBook, Del.icio.us, Twitter, etc.)

Update 2: At ControlGlobal.com, Walt Boyes picks up on business uses for social media sites like YouTube and Flickr. See his example of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board’s YouTube Channel, if you can.

If you can’t see this channel which shows video analysis of plant safety incidents, you now have a great argument on the need for your IT organization to unblock this site.

Update 3: Thank you Gary Mintchell for adding visibility to the plight of process manufacturers with “Mordoch, The Preventer of IT Service” departments who are blocking YouTube and other social media sites. Let’s get a Groundswell going here!

Posted Friday, March 28th, 2008 under Oil & Gas, Support Services.

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