Ensuring that the UK oil&gas industry operates in the safest manner possible is a top priority, but so too is sustaining an environment in which others can do the same.
In this pursuit, collaboration between industries is key, and there is no better example than the work being done by the fishing and oil&gas industries through the Fisheries Legacy Trust Company (FLTC).
The motivation behind FLTC’s launch just over two years ago was the need to put in place sustainable arrangements to capture and disseminate information about oil&gas industry-related seabed hazards to fishermen.
This is required because, in a small number of cases – for example, where there are practical concerns in removing large installations – the oil&gas industry is permitted by law to leave some infrastructure on the seabed following the completion of an approved decommissioning programme. However, it recognises that this can potentially affect the fishing industry.
With the strong support and endorsement of the oil&gas industry, and under the direction of BP and Total representatives, among others, sitting on the board, FLTC has certainly had a busy first two years, building on the co-operation and mutual support that has long existed between the two industries.
Firstly, with financial help from Shell, an international web portal providing fishermen and other mariners with enhanced information about the location of oil&gas companies’ infrastructure in UK waters was launched – www.fishsafe.eu is accessible in French, German, Dutch and Norwegian, as well as English, so the safety of fishermen whose first language is not English will be improved.
Secondly, FishSAFE, the unique GPS-based safety device which, since 1998, has provided fishermen with audible and visual warnings of seabed obstructions on which fishing nets may become caught, has been updated, and the improved instruments are now available for fishermen to purchase.
This was achieved with funding grants for sea trials, laboratory tests, production and supply from the European Fisheries Fund (EFF), delivered through the Scottish Government, to help subsidise the cost of the units that are installed in fishing vessels.
The original FishSAFE unit could no longer be maintained as replacement parts had become obsolete. Many features have been reviewed and improved in the development of the new device.
For example, the new device’s 12in LCD colour screen with clearer graphics is viewable in bright sunlight and allows much more information about hazards to be accessed.
The slim-line unit is also housed in a more robust, waterproof casing to improve performance.
Thirdly, FLTC, through its subsidiary, FLTC Services, and the Sea Fish Industry Authority (SeaFish), has taken responsibility for promoting the dissemination of detailed information on the location and status of infrastructure on the UK Continental Shelf.
This is co-ordinated by Oil & Gas UK’s subsidiary company, Common Data Access Limited (CDA), and Schlumberger Information Solutions, and the project is known as Kingfisher Information Services-United Kingdom Continental Shelf or KIS-UKCS.
These projects highlight the value of the FLTC and we are encouraged that their timely completion will improve mariners’ safety in 2010 and beyond.
While the FLTC is a world first, we hope that successes like these will ensure that it becomes a model for collaboration between the fishing and oil&gas industries worldwide.
Paul Dymond is Oil & Gas UK’s operations and supply-chain director