chapter  5
11 Pages

Offshore Oil and Gas Operations Support

The oil and gas supply chain has been punctuated by accidents as well as successes. In 1965, the exploration rig Sea Gem collapsed into the North Sea, taking with her several casualties. However, it was not long before semisubmersible rigs such as the Sea Quest were drilling deep into the seabed and finding large quantities of first gas, then oil. Oil was first discovered under the North Sea in 1975, and the UK and Norway were quick to exploit the potential of what was to become one of the huge areas of subsea oil reserves, as well as succeeding in surmounting the inevitable challenges of the extraction of oil from such hostile and inhospitable conditions. Other tragedies, such as the Piper Alpha platform disaster of early July 1988, have, however, punctuated the industry to the extent that increasing levels of safety have been imposed on the industry in order to prevent accidents from occurring. In order to achieve such significant successes, the oil industry has had to adapt to equally significant challenges, especially with regard to the management of the inter - national supply chain that maintains the industry and enables it to advance forward in leaps and bounds. Whereas the North Sea comprises the continental shelf, which is considered to be relatively shallow water, much of the industry operates in deep-water areas, such as the Foinaven and Schiehallion fields west of Shetland, and the deep-water locations off West Africa, especially off Angola. The difference between these two sectors is that where West African waters are relatively gentle by global standards, the fields to the west of the Shetland Islands are located in harsh North Atlantic conditions, and pose a far greater challenge to offshore operations as a result.