The Gulf of Mexico environment is fairly benign when compared to the North Sea or even the east coast of the United States. However, lives and equipment are lost and millions of dollars are spent on down time due, in many instances, to inadequate weather and wave forecasts and warnings.

For a variety of reasons, the technology of offshore weather forecasting has been slow in developing. Conoco, in cooperation with the National Weather Service, began an ambitious program in 1980 to improve this capability using microprocessor technology for real time data gathering.

The cornerstone of the program is an offshore network of' production platf'orms instrumented with weather and wave' equipment. The automation and communication system already developed by Conoco f'or automated hydrocarbon production is used to analyze the wind and wave data and to transmit the results to shore in a real time mode.

Upon receipt, the National Weather Service (NWS) forwards the data to its forecasters as well as to all private weather contractors who have access to NWS circuits.

Conoco utilizes radar, satellite, and a sophisticated computer system to interact with the offshore network, NWS, and Conoco's private forecast consultant.

The goals, procedures, and costs of the system are presented in the paper, as well as preliminary results which indicate that the program is developing the technology to help make offshore operations safer and more efficient.


Human and economic losses have occurred in the Gulf of Mexico due to the lack of accurate and timely forecasts and warnings from both the public and private sector. In many instances, the forecaster was able to correctly predict the onset of the occurrence, but was unable to communicate with the offshore concern. In other instances, the forecaster never knew the event had occurred since there were not any accurate wind and wave observations available at the crucial time. Finally, operational problems developed at times due to misinterpretation of forecasts due to lack of details.

Conoco, in cooperation with the National Weather Service, developed a program in early 1980 that would seek to overcome the communication and observation problems that had hindered the development of the wind and wave forecast state of the art in the Gulf' of' Mexico.

The program utilized the existing automation and communication system, fairly low cost weather and wave measurment instrumentation, National Weather Service (NWS) teletype warning circuits, and remote radar displays from NWS stations. Conoco, as operator of the Lake Charles CAGC Production Division, has overall responsibility for the program.

Operational Considerations

As illustrated in Figure 1, the Lal Division operations extend from the Ship : -southwest of New Orleans-westward to coastline, a distance of 400 miles.there level of drilling, construction, and pro this division.

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