Phase 1 - Ongoing Preparation and Planning
The Hurricane Incident Command Team plans and conducts evacuation table-top drills in order to prepare personnel, and identify and correct any inefficiencies before there is a need for an actual evacuation.
The hurricane response plan is evaluated and updated annually, taking into consideration learning’s from the previous year’s activity.
Generators, batteries, communications systems, and other equipment that will be used during the hurricane are tested prior to hurricane season to ensure they will be operational if needed.
Shell’s platforms are built to the American Petroleum Institute’s most stringent standards (RP 2A).
All Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (MODUs), or generically referred to as offshore deepwater drilling rigs, have GPS tracking systems so that if the unit becomes unmoored, it can be found and damaged can be assessed relatively quickly.
Phase 2 - Tropical System or Hurricane has Formed and is Heading Toward the GOM
- Shell contracts with the private meteorological and forecast firm Impact Weather, which provides up-to-date hurricane information from satellite images and other data. Shell also uses the National Weather Service.
Assessment of projects and personnel
- From the time the storm is identified, meetings are held twice a day (or as needed) by the hurricane incident commander with designated operations managers, drilling superintendents, communications teams, and transport (marine and air logistics support) managers. This team begins the process of assessing the operational activities, people count, and time it will take to safely shut in operations and evacuate personnel.
- In general, once a hurricane or severe storm crosses 60 degrees longitude, the Hurricane Team is fully engaged so that it is able to respond and take appropriate actions swiftly. In addition, systems that develop quickly in or near the Gulf of Mexico constitute an urgent threat, since Shell has facilities all across the GOM.
- Downstream oil and gas infrastructure will also be shutdown as a storm approaches the northern GOM.
- Shell begins evacuating non-essential personnel from offshore platforms and drilling rigs, beginning with sites closest to the developing hurricane’s anticipated path. Non-essential personnel include construction and maintenance workers, caterers and others not directly responsible for producing and/or drilling operations.
- In many instances, Shell has to begin evacuations and production shut-in days before a hurricane is expected to reach a facility. Shell leaders consider numerous factors before making the decision to evacuate and shut-in production.
Most Shell assets are in deep-water, which means it takes longer for helicopters and/or boats to pick up personnel. Shell does not own these helicopters or boats. Contracts are in place for these services throughout the year, with additional resources contracted and dedicated to Shell during the hurricane season to ensure that Shell can safely and efficiently evacuate offshore personnel.
Drilling in deep-water means it takes longer to remove and secure drill pipe from these greater depths.
- Shell has numerous subsea wells. These require special safety, environmental and operational considerations for shutting in and can take as long as four to five days.
- We also conduct deep-water and ultra deep-water drilling operations that may take three to five days to shut-in, but have no production impact.
- In determining who is evacuated at this early stage, consideration is also given to those workers (Shell or contract) whose homes are in the hurricane’s anticipated path.