Manpower challenge for DP industryTaken from: Offshore Support Journal 28 May 2012
Rapid expansion of demand for and increasing technological complexity of Dynamic Positioning (DP) vessels is creating tensions regarding the availability and skills of specialist DP Operators, delegates were told at the fourth European Dynamic Positioning Conference held in London on 24-25 May.
This latest conference in the annual series continued the upward trend of attendance, with a record 142 delegates, including 37 shipowners reflecting the rising interest and importance of DP in the maritime market, and the participation of expert speakers and leading companies in the field. In his Platinum Sponsor’s address, Peter Aylott, representing The Dynamic Positioning Centre, part of C-Mar Group, said that the European DP Conference has evolved into a global presence in the sector, reflecting growth of the offshore sector and the number of vessels equipped with DP.
Mr Aylott identified the emerging manpower shortage as a critical issue for the industry with the age of the workforce increasing and a need for innovative solutions.Chairing the opening session, Michiel van der Geest, offshore class product manager at DNV said that DP is now essential in taking the offshore industry further but has also become a critical risk factor.
Joe Farrell-Dillon, DP marine engineering manager at Global Maritime pointed out that 95 per cent of DP business comes from the offshore oil and gas industry. Exploration and production in increasingly deep water is posing new challenges. A large number of DP vessels will be required, creating a need for more operators and training.
The Nautical Institute (NI) has been running its DP training scheme since 1982, but NI accreditation and services manager Regina Bindao said that the huge recent growth in demand and developing DP technology is putting pressure on the system.
She also revealed indications of rising incidents of fraud in relation to DP certificates, for example false claims of DP sea time. She revealed that last year the NI suspended or cancelled 10 certificates, but the problem is believed to be far bigger. During the following DPO Forum debate Capt Kuldip Singh Sandhu, managing director of Kulsan DP Consultants raised the role of simulator training and onboard training to allow DPOs to gain practical experience. Capt Slava Zhukalin, shipmaster and offshore manager at NorWind Installer highlighted the difference between certification and onboard experience and training.
The second session focused on more detailed issues of regulation, certification and inspection with the expectation of new regulation. Tom Horan, deepwater marine regulatory and compliance manager at Rowan Companies in the US, outlined the likely approach of the US Coast Guard to DP. Suman Muddusetti, marine operations advisor at Shell International Exploration and Production outlined the latest DP Guidance Documents from the MTS DP technical committee.
The first day’s third session concentrated on new DP applications, with two presentations on the challenges posed for DP operations in ice. A valuable practical insight came from Matti Westerlund, a serving master with Arctia Offshore, who discussed the difficulties of position keeping in ice and the role of keeping icebergs away from drilling units, pointing out that ice behaviour is extremely complex.
Jim Millan, research office with the Ocean Council and River Emergency Program of the National Research Council of Canada, described model testing in support of DP operations in ice, with the increasingly likelihood of drilling operations in ice. Ice can easily force vessels off track with limited options for correcting the situation.
The final session involved delegates choosing to attend one of six roundtables, each discussing a topical operational issue or threat, ranging from FMEA testing and DP redundancy to the impact of sunspot activity and other sources of interference to navigation systems affecting DP operations. These discussions proved extremely popular. The facilitators for each roundtable reported back to all delegates on key questions and action points that had been identified and to be taken forward for further discussion in the wider industry.