Offshore Works

Where they take place

The English term offshore (off the coast) generically indicates the works carried out by man at sea, away from the coasts. The engineering involved in the construction and installation of these works is similarly called offshore. The vast majority of these works are linked to the exploitation of oil and gas fields. Recently, there has been a considerable diversification in the design and execution of offshore works, no longer connected only to the oil extraction activity but, with the advent of the exploitation of renewable energies (green energy), also projects for the exploitation of energy produced by the wave motion and above all by the wind; in fact, in recent years there has been an incredible increase of the installations of wind farms, which for all experts will be the largest energy source on the planet in the near future.

Other activities require the presence of “offshore” works, located in the open sea, such as: pipes for the transport of products of various kinds (gas and oil pipelines; drainage pipes from waste water treatment; aqueducts for the supply of islands); sea ​​water intake and return works for cooling plants in thermoelectric power stations or other industrial plants; works for signaling routes or canals and for measuring oceanographic parameters. There is also, but not least, the exploration of deep ocean floors for different purposes than petroleum (extraction of different minerals, such as nickel and manganese, present in large quantities in some sites).

The distance from the coasts of offshore installations can also be considerable. Conventionally until a few years ago, installations placed on bottoms with a maximum bathymetry of 250-350 meters were conceivable, which limited the field of application. Currently, however, also due to the continuous increase in demand for petroleum products and the possibility of extraction from the seabed of products other than petroleum, the depth of offshore plants and the environmental difficulties (e.g. Arctic sea) where they are installed have increased, projecting man’s offshore engineering and work towards increasingly demanding structures from a technical and economic point of view. These new difficult and demanding explorations have been made possible above all with the advent of ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) technology, remotely controlled vehicles capable of replacing humans in many underwater activities that take place at great depth.

In the field of oil exploitation, offshore exploration has been extended to practically all the seas of the planet and has led to a gradual increase in confirmed oil reserves. It is estimated that of the entire world oil reserve, about 30% is located below the seabed.

The most interesting areas are the North Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, the Arabian Gulf, the Caspian Sea, the West African coasts, and also Alaska and Australia coasts. In Italy there are quite important deposits, in the Adriatic Sea and in the Strait of Sicily.

What is offshore work

Working on offshore platforms/installations is not always an easy experience for everyone. Limited free time, confined space, distance from the family and the usual environment are not negligible factors. The positive sides are: the adventurous style of work, the good pay compared to a job on the mainland and the quite long vacation periods (you generally work, depending on the role played, in shifts of 40-50 days, alternating with periods of vacation, roughly the same length).

The types of tasks performed are the most varied. Engineers, geologists, geophysicists, programmers, researchers, doctors, surveyors, sailors, welders, mechanics, electricians, divers are required.

The minimum age for all workers before approaching offshore work is between 25 and 30 years; specific skills are required for which workers must follow demanding and specific training courses regardless of the role played, which are necessary to board an offshore installation. Compulsory for offshore work is a perfect state of health, which is certified every year by medical specialists in possession of the skills to ascertain the psycho-physical suitability for offshore work, issuing an international certification without which it is impossible to board such installations or ships.

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