The best way to reduce risk is to eliminate it all together. Total Abu Al Bukhoosh (TABK) is a mature field being operated for many years, yet new technologies and innovative solutions are constantly fed into our operations and maintenance toolbox. Through use of an innovative approach for maintenance activities, Total ABK reduced by 90% the overall manhours of exposure during an offshore flare tip replacement.
TABK compared two alternatives for the flare tip replacement program. The first was to perform the operation using conventional heavy load crane barge methodology. The activity is performed by landing the barge near the flare header and removing the tip with the crane. The second option was to perform the replacement by helicopter rather than crane barge, using the "long line" flying technique (sometime referred to as "Vertical Reference"). This methodology is very innovative and is performed by expert crews only as it requires experienced hands, high-tech equipment and specialized guidance tools.
There are many benefits using the helicopter approach, most impressive of which is the overall reduction in workplace exposure. Total hours for the helicopter operation including on-site prep time was 123 hours, versus an estimated 2880 hours for the crane barge approach. Additional benefits include reduced down time (two field days vs. three weeks), reduced chance of weather delays and up to 7 times less CO2 emissions. HSE performance improvement doesn’t mean additional cost as this approach was 1/3 of the cost of the crane barge approach.