Walking to work: 350 kilometers offshore Newfoundland
October 2022 – Cenovus Energy staff that work on the SeaRose, an offshore floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel in the Atlantic Region, have a rather unconventional commute to work.
On a good day, it involves an hour and a half helicopter trip over the North Atlantic. When weather conditions prevent helicopter transfers, the crew transit offshore by supply vessel, a trip that takes approximately twelve to fourteen hours. And when they arrive in the White Rose Field, the crew get on board the SeaRose via a personnel transfer device known as a Frog. This process involves individuals secured into the Frog and lifted up to the SeaRose using the installation’s crane.
In order to increase worker transport safety to the offshore platform and create efficiencies, a Walk to Work System alternative was recently tested in the field.
The system is a motion-controlled gangway that compensates for ocean movement to create a stable and safe walkway from a supply vessel to the SeaRose. Should ice outside of the platform encroach, the Walk to Work System would allow for a timely exit of the installation. Instead of using multiple helicopter trips, a dedicated field standby vessel could deploy the system.
Cenovus invited one of the Walk to Work System suppliers to test the equipment alongside the SeaRose, in the White Rose Field, providing the opportunity to test in a more realistic setting.
“This wasn’t something that could just happen,” says Dave Dwyer, Offshore Installation Manager (OIM) of the SeaRose at Cenovus. “The movement of vessels in the field is strictly monitored. We conducted a full risk assessment of the potential hazards, obtained the proper permits, full vessel vetting and engaged our regulator before we could even consider trying it. And even then, no personnel were permitted to walk the gangway.”
Once the Health & Safety, Regulatory and Operations teams attained permits and approvals, the Horizon Arctic, the ship used to deploy the Walk to Work System, made its way to the White Rose Field, where conditions were perfect for testing the full capabilities of the equipment.
“I was questioning how well this would work,” says Dave. “I had my doubts, but it was so impressive. The Walk to Work System was able to maintain a stable connection to the SeaRose, in four metre seas.”
Safety and detailed process were at the forefront throughout this initiative. The exercise demonstrated that moving nimbly to adapt to an opportunity can be done with support and guidance from Cenovus’s core values.
“It was a really exciting day for our team. Theory is fine but there’s nothing like truly testing a system in a dynamic environment,” says Dave. “You could see the gangway clearly from the bridge, and everyone who watched the test was very impressed.”