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Transport study of offshore personnel for a large scale oilfield development

BMT recommended a marine transport system that is safer, reduces marine service downtime and translates to potential cost savings of over US$5M annually.

The Requirement

Located in the Upper Zakum (UZ) field, the fourth largest oilfield in the world offshore Abu Dhabi, the UZ750 Project was initiated in 2010 by the Zakum Development Company (ZADCO) to develop four artificial islands to increase its current oil production to by 50% to 750,000 barrels of oil per day, for the next 25 years. 

Operations in the UZ field require substantial effort in personnel transportation between accommodation (platform living) of up to 550 staff, to the offshore rigs. 

Current practice is heavily dependent on helicopter supplement with marine mode, a common yet extremely costly method. BMT was asked by ZADCO to investigate the value of marine transport in the Zakum Field. Our study answers the following questions:

  • How can offshore personnel be transferred using a dominant Marine mode?, What is required to do this safely? Is it reliable and how best to deliver?

Our Approach

Personnel transport to, from and within the Zakum Field is a complex equation that involves multiple destinations, widely spread offshore including islands, accommodation platforms, satellite platforms, rigs and well-heads.

The choice of Service Fleet and network planning are the critical success factors for the Marine Strategy.  To identify the optimal service fleet option, BMT’s study did the following:

  • Established a series of scenarios considering a combination of air/marine mode via different routing arrangements and by a comparative analysis against key performance indicators - journey time, reliability and cost
  • Recommended a Hub & Spoke marine transport system, reducing the use of air mode which was demonstrated to achieve the required service as well as significant cost savings.
  • Addressed issues regarding personnel transfer safety from moving vessel to platform

Outcome and Benefits

Leveraging BMT’s resourceful meteorological and oceanographic (metocean) database of the local environment, as well as BMT’s proprietary vessel access technology, we presented a solution that could offset the safety challenges of marine mode personnel transport.

Our recommendations significantly reduce marine service down-time and translates also to substantial annual cost savinga of over US$ 5M.  

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