Australian Oil Industry Strategizes to Withstand Hurricane Season

With thousands of workers and billions of dollars on the line, oil rigs in Australia are being prepared to face the upcoming hurricane season.

In 2007, Australia learned the dangers of hurricane season when two workers were killed by Cyclone George off the northern coast. The year, however, those lessons are being taken to heart as oil rigs are being prepared for the imminent hurricane season.

Thousands of employees man Australian oil rigs every day. That number, coupled with the billions of dollars at stake, is causing the industry to evaluate the best ways to strengthen defenses against this force of nature. At the University of Western Australia, a hurricane simulator has been developed to test the impact of storms on the seafloor. This will evaluate the effect that hurricanes may have on a rig’s equipment.

This simulator is also an important tool in developing safer, more stable rigs that can better withstand hurricane-force winds.

In addition to this study, the government is monitoring how companies prepare employees for the season. The initial defense against hurricane fatalities is to evacuate all employees from the rig and back onto land. Moreover, evacuation decisions must be made as rapidly as possible - days before the storm hits at best.

In other instances, ships and floating oil platforms are towed out to sea to avoid the path of the hurricane. Because no avoidance is foolproof, steps toward more stable rigs are important to the industry’s progression.

In addition to the two workers that were killing in 2007, more than 20 people were injured when the hurricane hit.

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