The Australian offshore regulator NOPSEMA (National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority) has issued a safety alert following a recent incident offshore Western Australia.
The incident involved a vessel facility, which lost its position while diving activities were being conducted approximately 130 metres (426.5 feet) from a hydrocarbon facility.
“The loss of position was caused by a deactivation of the forward/aft automatic positioning function by unintentionally deselecting the ‘surge’ button on the DP (Dynamic Position) console located on the bridge, which then deactivated the ‘Auto Position’ mode,” the agency reported.
Offshore Diver Incident Investigated
The safety alert did not reveal the name of the vessel operator, or the name of the hydrocarbon platform, but stated that the incident could have resulted in a diver fatality.
The report explained that the deactivation of the function “was thought to have occurred by the placement of a notepad on the side of the console”.
The change in positioning resulted in the drifting of the vessel, which was initially noticed by a diver when his umbilical started to become taut.
Once the Dynamic Position Operator (DPO) became aware of the movement, the ‘Auto Position’ mode was reactivated, which caused the vessel to spot moving and remain in position, NOPSEMA explained further.
“During this time, the diver had followed his umbilical, moved clear of any obstacles and walked with the vessel,” the report adds.
Incident Potentially Fatal
According to the agency, the loss of position during diving could have caused diver fatalities if the umbilicals or other equipment had become entangled or snagged on subsea infrastructure.
As well as this, it could have caused a collision, “leading to a loss of hydrocarbon containment and subsequent fire or explosion”, it added.
“In both cases, the consequences could involve multiple fatalities”, the agency noted.
Due to the potential severity of the consequences of the incident, NOPSEMA is conducting an investigation on board the facility.Last updated on 06:19PM - 29/06/16