By Lindsay Young, Managing Director, Offshore Solutions BV More than 10 million crew transfers take place each year in the offshore oil and gas sector by helicopter, vessel, or crane and basket. This is a high-cost activity for those operating in the industry. Escalating costs mean that operators and service companies need to come up with new ways of working to improve business economics. People are the most important asset to any installation, crucial in achieving best working practices. However, a number of factors can impact upon how effectively their time is used. Traditionally, this has included bedding limitations, shuttling inefficiencies and weather conditions, among other aspects. As market leader in heave-compensated marine access systems, Offshore Solutions provides clients with the Offshore Access System (OAS), a 21-m (69-ft), hydraulically operated, telescopic gangway with a unique 24/7 connection and operating capability. By installing an OAS onboard a suitable DPII (dynamic positioning, Grade 2) vessel, which also has excellent station-keeping capabilities, workers can be transferred to and from installations with ease with several able to be serviced by one vessel. This can significantly increase available man-hours, facilitating a recognizable improvement to hands-on tool time, which, in turn, can significantly reduce costs and the time it takes to complete a given project. Safety is the primary concern when transferring personnel and hence Offshore Solutions’ system connects to the offshore structure, and then the heave compensation is disengaged. Unlike other systems on the market, the safe transfer of personnel is not dependent on active systems. The standard OAS connection is by means of a simple landing platform clamped to a leg of the jacket; however Offshore Solutions has developed an “Elephant's Foot,” friction-interface connection designed to land on existing grating with sufficient structural integrity. This maintains a robust connection without the need for a bespoke landing platform. The marine vessel on which the OAS is installed is often used as accommodation by the crew. This provides additional bed capacity. By having the platform personnel living onboard the vessel, rather than shuttling them to and from an installation, 10½ hours a day can be made available out of a 12-hour shift, compared to the 6½ hours typical of a normal operational day. Operating under proper shift patterns as a result of this measure allows personnel to work with minimal disruption, facilitating a gain of around 70% more available man-hours. The provision of additional workspace is an added benefit of employing a vessel with OAS combination. The OAS also enables oil and gas companies to perform multiple functions from the vessel; whether utilizing the vessel as a dive support boat or for ROV work, or even for materials storage. A motion reference unit in the OAS’ active hydraulic system allows the gangway to operate in sea states of up to 3.0-m (10 ft) significant wave height, while an independent power source allows the OAS to remain operational in the event of a power failure on the vessel. As personnel transfer continues to come under scrutiny in the oil and gas industry, the safe and efficient transfer of crews is vital. And at a time where increased productivity and cost reduction is also of prime importance to the continued success of the sector, innovative solutions such as the OAS have never been more important. A clip of the OAS in action is available.