A tabletop exercise (Mock Drill) simulating an impending Cyclone in the Arabian sea affecting the operational area of Western offshore oil fields was carried out on 26 May 2022, in which all the stakeholders, viz 15 Process platforms, 2 FPSO’s, one MOPU Sagar Samrat, one FSO, one Oil Shuttle tanker, One Drill Ship, 30 Jack up drilling Rigs, 9 MSV/FFSV’s, 2 Well stimulation vessels, 53 OSV/PSV/AHTS/Survey vessels, Totaling 115 Assets with 6807 personnel on board these assets that were actually present on that day in the High seas. Apart from the external agencies like MRCC, Indian Navy, ICG, DG Shipping and ODAG whose support is essential in case of a crisis situation in offshore necessitating activation of RCP. MoPNG was also in the real-time communication matrix. As ONGC has the major share, we took the responsibility for giving peer support. The “MOPU KGB” of M/S HOEC in B-80 field and Lakshmi & Gauri fields of M/S Vedanta were requested and involved in the drill. The Drill comprised of emergency scenarios controllable with ONGC’s own resources as well as emergencies requiring assistance from external agencies.
This kind of an exercise was necessary to test Western Offshores’ RCP and ERP which were reviewed after the incidents of extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm Tauktae. The concept, the scenarios and the execution was undertaken by the Western Offshore Team of Assets and Services under the guidance of Mr. C Mathavan, ED-AM-MH Asset who is also holding the position of Chief Emergency Coordinator, Western Offshore Region. The core group consisting of the Head HSEs, Head Offshore Safety, Rig Move Cell, ERT members and VCR were instrumental in the successful preparation, arrangements and execution of the Drill.
As stated, the massive exercise was carried out to assess the response of the personnel in the western offshore as per ERP (Emergency response plan), the preparatory actions to be taken, the logistics challenges in evacuating 3533 non-essential persons within 4 days, the constant flow of communication to and fro offshore, to the top management of ONGC, MoPNG and external agencies MRCC, ICG, Navy, DGS.
A scenario was created, wherein a national bulletin was received from IMD about depression over Lakshadweep area & adjoining SE Arabian Sea and predicted to develop into a severe cyclone passing through MH field in the early hours of 1 June 2022. The wind speed was expected to be 85 knots and wave height of 8 mts.
Three different scenarios were played out during the movement of the cyclone:
1) Forecast of cyclone passing through Mumbai High in 6 days’ time with intensity of 85 Knots wind speed and 8 M wave height.
2) A barge Sea Stallion not able to move out of field till 3 days from the date of cyclone due to equipment failure.
3) One tug boat Sea Conquest with 20 persons on board developing leak in hull and sinking during the cyclone.
During the exercise, all the stakeholders and participants in offshore and Base office were communicating via VHF, HF Radio, Telephones, Mail/IP messages and through VC interactions and VATMS (Vessel and Air Traffic Management System) was utilized for monitoring the movement of vessels in offshore.
VATMS used for monitoring vessels movement
The first two scenarios involved activation of installation specific ERP, Virtual Conference (VC) meeting with all Key executives and L2 level officers to brief about the emerging situation and actions to be taken, VC with offshore platforms to brief the platforms, Rigs and Vessels, Setting up of Emergency control room and cyclone control room, preparing the Rigs and platforms for Storm survival mode, Evacuation of non-essential persons, Complete evacuation of two FPSO’s after shutdown down of C7, D1 fields, Picking up anchor and sailing away of Drill ship Sagar Vijay to high seas, De-mooring of Two Tankers, assisting the stuck barge Sea Stallion and towing away with ONGC tugs to sheltered water.
The Last scenario involved activation of RCP by Chairman RCC West on the request of Chief Emergency Coordinator of ONGC as one Tug Sea Conquest with 20 POB was sinking and simulation of SAR (Search and Rescue) of 20 personnel on board the affected Tug by vessels from ONGC, ICG and Indian Navy. Regular SITREP Reports were prepared and sent to EC ONGC, Chairman RCC (W), FODAG/CHIEF STAFF OFFICER (OPS), HQWNC, MOC (MB)-Western Naval Command, DGS and JOC (MBI)
The exercise started at 09:00 hrs on 26 June 2022 and lasted 8 hrs till 17:00 hrs with the ECR at ONGC VB resembling a real War room with about 40 officers from ONGC and one officer from Indian Navy, Cdr. Kuldeep Naik, engaged in gathering information from offshore, sending out instruction to offshore, monitoring, communicating with external agencies, Planning, strategizing throughout the entire exercise. One officer from ONGC was also present at MRCC, Colaba for coordinating with the Officers commanding the SAR.
A Debriefing meeting was chaired by ED-Asset Manager Mumbai High Asset after the completion of the Mock Drill Table Top Exercise. It was attended by ED-AM-NH Asset, ED-AM-B&S Asset, ED-COL, ED-CDS, ED-OES, GGM-Chief HSE, MRCC, DG-Shipping, Offshore Platforms and members from ERT/ECR etc.
The exercise brought out the exemplary preparedness of the entire western offshore to face a cyclone and it also brought out some gaps and challenges like logistics support for evacuation of huge number of personnel with limited resources and time constraints.
Major Takeaways that emerged in the de-briefing:
- To manage such large scale evacuation, help can be sought from Navy / Coast Guard in addition to utilizing in-house resources of Vessels and Helicopters.
- Segregation of essential and non-essential persons took time. A permanent component of essential and non-essential persons in POB is suggested.
- Request for evacuation should be consolidated at one point and evacuation process to be prioritized according to the type of installation.
- Emergency Mustering solutions, especially electronic/RFID based, geared specifically for Offshore Rigs, Platforms and Vessels can be explored.
- To manage the information overload during the emergency, it was suggested that only pre-identified personnel will transmit/post messages taking care to screen out non-essential information.
- A group with EC members was suggested by CHSE so that messages can be passed at one go.
- A separate one-click VC link may be created that can be accessed by ONGC along with the external agencies such as MRCC, Navy, Coast Guard, ODAG, etc.
Director (Offshore) Pankaj Kumar encouraged the Team MR right from the moment the concept of the 'Table Top' was briefed to him during the Monsoon preparedness Meeting and gave valuable advice and direction for the entire preparedness of western offshore and during the drill, he was constantly briefing the EC and Secretary MoPNG.
The drill was a re-sounding success in achieving the intended goals of checking the preparedness of western offshore teams, sensitizing all stakeholders about the challenges and instilling confidence in the teams to face any weather related contingencies in ONGC’s operational areas in the high seas.