Full Alert

December 15, 2014

Water rescue drills and oil spill response exercises are an essential part of our operational activity. Now we are going to tell you about the exercises arranged by Gazprom Geologorazvedka in the Sea of Okhotsk, where the company is drilling two exploratory wells within the Yuzhno-Kirinskoye field.

The exercises involved experts of Gazprom Geologorazvedka, Ecoshelf, the Sakhalin branch of the State Maritime Service of Russia (Gosmorspassluzhba), the Department of Marine Inspection for the Sakhalin Region under the Far Eastern Department of the Federal Supervisory Natural Resources Management Service (Rosprirodnadzor) as well as the crews of the Doo Sung and the Severnoye Siyaniye (Northern Lights) semi-submersible drilling rigs (SSDR), the Posh Conquest tugboat, the Atlas and the Rubin rescue vessels.

The expedition set sail from the port of Holmsk (Sakhalin Island) on August 11.

The Posh Conquest tugboat was to take the expert group to the Yuzhno-Kirinskoye field. 

The tugboat crew members were hurrying up to sail away – the Halong typhoon was approaching Sakhalin from Japan.

Their expectations were met: by the time the powerful cyclone started tearing roofs from the houses in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and its outskirts, the tugboat prudently moored for the night on the southernmost point of the island, Cape Crillon, to proceed with its sound sailing the next morning through La Perouse Strait along the Japanese islands.

We had to sail for two more days to our destination point, so the guests had enough time to get acquainted with the ‘floating hotel’. Andrey Abiremtsev, the captain, told us about its basic performances.

It came to light, that despite 16,000 HP of capacity enabling to tow 204 tons, the vessel crew caressingly call their tugboat the ‘Ballet Dancer’. 

The vessel crew is multinational, therefore, the Indonesian cook should be ‘jack-of-all-trades’ to satisfy the variety of culinary preferences.

Andrey Kon and Pavel Kuksov, our cameramen, fit completely into the atmosphere of internationality prevailing onboard.

The only thing was alarming: the more we sailed, the thicker was the mist above the Sakhalin shelf. While doubling Cape Tomari-Aniva, our cameramen had to make great efforts to shoot the outline of the famous Aniva lighthouse.

Having sailed 510 nautical miles (nearly a thousand kilometers) across the Sea of Okhotsk, the Posh Conquest reached the Doo Sung site early in the morning on August 14.

The expert group members, photographer and one of the cameramen were dressed in bright-orange diving suits, fastened to a suspended cradle through the latch hooks and lifted up instantly onto the platform by crane.

During a short excursion around the platform, Ramin Mirguseinov, Health and Safety Supervisor, showed guests the crew emergency assembly areas and evacuation traps, access ways to life boats, life vests, diving suits and…

…signal lights.

Note that there was not an accident at the platform during the last seven years.

Our filming team was supervising the exercise in progress from the Atlas rescue vessel.

At 1 pm we were on board of the Atlas vessel, watching the half-misted rig, the crew of which had to initiate the first stage of the exercises. According to the legend, an accident happened at the rig during bunkering activities involving the Far Fosha tugboat. The tugboat clashing against the rig resulted in a crewman ‘falling’ over the board, ‘oil spill’ and a ‘fire’ on the platform.

At 1:08 pm all the vessels involved in the exercises alarmed ‘Man over board!’

In just a few seconds a life boat lowered from the Atlas rushed towards an orange point hardly visible in waves – that was Tommy dummy, which Russian lifeguards call Fyodor.

In five minutes ‘Tommy-Fyodor’ was delivered onboard the Atlas and got the first aid. The poor thing was then carefully moved back to the Doo Sang.

After a short break, Valentin Nimenky, captain of the Atlas, commanded: “Rig on fire! Start jockey water pumps”.

All cradle-mounted nozzles of the rescue vessel were operating in various modes during 15 minutes.

The visibility of 80 cable length is considered to be good at the sea (1 cable length equals 185.2 meters). On the first day of the exercises everything located beyond 50 meters was veiled by mist. You don’t have to be a great mathematician to realise the complexity of tasks that the exercise participants and the filming team faced. However, photographer Alexey Alexeenko never surrenders!

Another alarm was given and the Atlas crew set to mounting the Ro-sweep oil trap – the slick bar for oil spill elimination.

Every boom is pumped with air before released into the sea.

The result is a 52-meter entire trap.

Oil spill simulation: the surface of the U-shaped ‘pond’ is sprinkled with rice husk.

Desmi-250 skimmer, a specialist tool for petroleum products gathering, is then set afloat from the rescue vessel.

The tool is capable of gathering nearly 70 tons of oily mixture.

35–40 minutes is a standard period of time for installing such type of a slick bar. Vladimir Khmelnitsky, the Chief Officer, reported: “The Atlas crew coped with the task within 33 minutes”.

The 250-meter Ro-bumm-1800 slick bar and DBD-40 skimmer were put in operation during 40 minutes.

This was the end of the first stage of the exercises, because the weather kept resisting any vessels approach each other.

However, the workday wasn’t finished for the expedition participants. As the night crept over the offshore, the tugboat set its course to the Severnoye Siyanie location: according to the legend for the second day of exercises, the Posh Chamion tugboat, by clashing against the rig, caused an accident at well No.5 of the Yuzhno-Kirinskoye field.

The second day of the exercises started at the Rubin rescue vessel at 7 am sharp on August 15.

It took just five minutes to pull the ‘local’ Tommy out of the water.

The most ill-fated crew member is rescued! On the picture – Elena Gorbacheva, one of the reporters.

Having moved away from the platform, the Rubin started extinguishing the imaginary fire.

Stepan Vasilevich, captain of the Rubin, commands to localize and eliminate the imaginary oil spill.

The Ro-sweep slick bar and Desmi-250 skimmer were put in operation during 27 minutes.

The Ro-bumm-2000 slick bar was deployed by the Rubin crew during 37 minutes, and afterwards the vessels started joint maneuvering to arrange a J-order.

The purpose of such activities is catching the loose end of the slick bar by the tugboat with further passing the rescue vessel that will result in the formation of a so-called J-order – huge arrangement localizing the oil spill.

Done! Arranged within one hour and 10 minutes between the Posh Conquest and the Rubin, the order was recognized by the experts as the perfect end of the exercises.

On our way back home we asked the commission members to assess the exercises. “The exercises went right and tight”, says Viktor Shamin, Chief of the expert group and Wrecking Advisor for Ecoshelf. “All the units worked in an efficient and quality manner, the rescue vessels’ crews clearly displayed their skills and met, if not surpassed, all the required schedules.”

Alexander Mokushin, Deputy Chief of the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Regional Administration for Gazprom Geologorazvedka, noted that these exercises were very important to ensure the company’s adequate activity: “First, it’s prescribed by the law, second, such measures allow us to assess our real capabilities for localizing and eliminating oil spills. The exercises evidenced the company had plenty of resources to achieve this aim”.

Elena Gorbacheva, Alexey Alexeenko (Gazprom Geologorazvedka), Gazprom website Editorial Board

P. S. The commission is with its full complement.

You can find large-size images in Photos.