Continuing operations after a weather system has passed through an offshore asset is of high importance to the operators due to the commercial impacts of a production shut-in and safety considerations associated with the personnel evacuations. Year after year, more and more hurricanes, and tropical storms travel through the Gulf of Mexico (GOM), interrupting operations of the fixed and floating platforms. In the hurricane season of 2021, weather developments have covered almost all regions in the GOM. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) requires a number of steps in order to allow facilities to resume operations.
API Bulletin 2HINS (2009) provides a systematic approach for evaluating the structural condition of the facility prior to operations restart. The evaluation includes a pre-boarding inspection for gross apparent damage to the structure and its safety systems followed by a topsides Level I inspection. If any major damage is found, then the operator is required to perform a Level II inspection for potential underwater damage. In addition, progressive engineering checks are required in order to show if the platform was affected by the hurricane loads and a best estimate of damage and required retrofits.
This paper focuses on preparations operators can make to satisfy BSEE requirements before the hurricane hits, based on lessons learned from implementing this process in past storm events. Some of the information can be gathered regardless of the hurricane itself (e.g., design criteria) and a performance envelope can be prepared to estimate the potential damage based on the metocean criteria at the site of the platform. A methodology is developed to identify the best available metocean data (e.g., from a site forecast, from a hindcast, from a nearby site) and ensure it is used appropriately to assess the loading on the facility from the storm.
In addition, a checklist of actions to consider before platform abandonment is developed for the safety systems and to ensure the operation of the monitoring systems while the platform is de-staffed in order to minimize any potential damage and post hurricane clean ups.