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October 25th, 2010

Concerns over Maritime Injuries from Aging Offshore Infrastructure Are Real

There are increasing maritime safety concerns about an aging fleet of floating production, storage and offloading vessels (FPSOs).  Those concerns were raised at the 25th FPSO Forum held in Aberdeen on October 13.

FPSO vessels offer greater flexibility and the ability to operate in deep water in remote locations.  According to analysts, as existing FPSOs approach the end of their design lives, it’s important for operators to consider the integrity of these vessels and how protected they are from aging-related issues.

Some offshore analysts believe that there is a need to understand the kind of working conditions that might impact the integrity of a FPSO.  For instance, many of the current FPSO vessels have limited bed space on board, which limits the number of persons who may be allowed on board at any given moment in time.  That means there are also restrictions on the kind of maintenance that can be done while the vessel is on station.

Besides, there are real concerns about compromised integrity due to the aging process.  For instance, there could be damage caused from wear and tear of components.  There may also be damage from corrosion.  There are also issues related to structural integrity, obsolescence of equipment because of equipment that gets outdated as the years go by, and reduction of equipment to consider.  Besides, any damage because of accident events must be considered when you a plan for life extension.

Consultants and analysts have found aging issues in a five-year-old FPSO that they would not have likely found in a 10-year-old tanker.  This illustrates the need for better understanding of ongoing maintenance and repair issues with these vessels.  For instance, some of the ideas that emerged at the Forum were better sharing of data, the need to raise awareness about aging-related concerns, and the need for better collaboration between industry and regulators.

The maritime attorneys at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers represent injured victims of maritime accidents in Texas and nationwide.

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