Saturday, May 12, 2012

Offshore in Louisiana

Jack-up barge at a platform

Jack-up barge in the river channel

Crew boat

Offshore vessel with Helo deck

Jack-up platform

For the last two weeks I have been working in Louisiana.  This is my first survey in the Gulf of Mexico and it should be of no surprise that the end client is a large oil company.  For this survey we are attempting to locate abandoned power cables between offshore oil platforms.  These cables are scheduled to be removed but there is a lack of accurate documentation as to their location.  

We trailered a survey boat from Seattle and mobilized our survey equipment onsite.  We have a dock to tie up at each night that is walking distance away from our “home”.  This may be a long term project so the client has arranged for a mobile home for us to live in.  It’s not the nicest accommodations but it is very convenient and a lot more social environment than staying in a hotel.

We are working out of Port Fourchon which is a major hub for the offshore oil industry.  There is a constant stream of crew boats, ships and helicopters moving people and supplies to offshore platforms.  We are working in an older oil field that at is very close to shore and in shallow water. I am amazed by the variety of large and strange work boats.  In shallow water the oil industry uses a lot of “Jack-up” barges and “Jack-up” platforms.  These mobile structures have large legs that allow them to lift out of the water turning them into stable work structures.  For deep water operation the industry relies more on large vessels that can be self-sufficient for long periods of time.  It is also shrimp season so the shrimp boats of all sizes are out among the platforms trying to bring home a catch. And then there is us, a bit of an odd duck in our busy little aluminum boat. 

Being small makes us affordable and makes it easy to work around offshore well heads and platforms. It also means that we can’t work in all weather conditions.  Yesterday and today we have been in port waiting out the weather and catching up on boat maintenance and data processing.

I think I am going to enjoy the complex challenge that this project presents.

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