Accurate and reliable surveillance and forecasting of environmental conditions are necessary for safe and efficient oil and gas activities both onshore and offshore. In the Arctic, environmental challenges include seasonal sea ice and low temperature extremes. In the absence of pooled forecasting services and operational-grade forecasting capacity by public weather services, Shell has developed and operates an in-house, Anchorage based forecasting program designed specifically for the demands and requirements of Shell's Alaska operations.
The Shell Ice and Weather Advisory Center (SIWAC), now in its eighth year of operation, has evolved to be the most comprehensive and focused ice and weather forecast operation covering the offshore and coastal areas from the Gulf of Alaska to the Canadian Beaufort Sea. SIWAC consists of a team of fulltime Arctic-experienced forecasters working in a 24/7 rotation schedule and are fully integrated into the operations process, directly engaging with field personnel and decision makers.
Development of differentiating forecast products and services depends not only on an expert team, but also a robust observation program consisting of contracted and public satellite imagery, a network of Metocean buoys, satellite-tracked ice movement beacons, and steady stream of field observations from specially trained personnel aboard marine and aviation assets.
In 2011, Shell entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration that described a framework for collaboration, communication, and information sharing between the Agency and Industry.
This agreement leverages the strengths of each party and opens Shell's Arctic ice and Metocean data for use within NOAA forecasting offices, numerical model ingestion, climate research, and general public consumers.