WATCH: World’s first electric freefall lifeboat to be deployed at oil platform

The world’s first electric-powered freefall lifeboat is to be deployed on an oil and gas platform after passing its final tests.

The aluminium lifeboat from Dutch firm Verhoef will be deployed at the Valhall Flank West project off the coast of Norway, operated by AkerBP.

It is aimed at cutting maintenance costs from traditional models and reduce operators’ carbon footprints.

Torqeedo, the firm which developed the propulsion system, said it is designed to withstand heavy g-forces in a freefall launch.

The model can run for 30 minutes at full speed, followed by another 10 hours at 50% of top speed.

The system is a 50kilowatt motor, which produces the equivalent of 80 horsepower.

Verhoef estimates it will reduce costs by up to 95% from traditional combustion-powered models, removing issues like the need to transport and handle diesel fuel.

As well as oil and gas, the developers are hoping to bring the technology to the shipping and cruise industries.

CEO of Torqeedo, Christoph Ballin, said: “These lifeboats must be ready to launch in an emergency at any time of day or night, capable of surviving the shock and vibration of launch from a high platform and deliver passengers to safety.”

Verhoef CEO, Martin Verhoef, said: “This is what the industry has been waiting for to reduce their OPEX and carbon footprint. We are convinced that electric propulsion will be the wave of the future for lifeboat technology.

“While we are focusing initially on applications like oil platforms, which have shorter distances to travel to reach shore, we believe this technology will also ultimately transform the shipping and cruise industry as well.”

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