No one ever said the commute to work on an offshore oil and gas facility was easy. Your choices are to fly out by helicopter or transfer from a workboat to the facility, usually in a basket that dangles more than a hundred feet from a crane or by grabbing a rope and swinging from a boat to a platform, Tarzan-style. Each one has its own risks.
Now one group is trying to quantify the risks of going offshore by helicopter versus going by boat. According to a new study performed by DNV GL on behalf of Reflex Marine, Enermech and Seacor Marine, the risks from helicopter are quite a bit higher than vessel transfers.
According to the announcement by DNV GL (click here to access study), the study authors gathered more worldwide data on vessel transfers than had been available in the past and concluded that the risk of helicopter transfers are 11 times higher than vessel transfers. They say that they found that the chance of dying in a boat transfer is about one in five million and the chance of dying in an offshore helicopter transfer are about one in 400,000. They note that they only looked at fatalities during the transfer and not ones that might have occurred on the transit from shore to the transfer point. They also didn’t look at non-fatal injuries that may occur during transfers by either boat or helicopter.
A little perspective on this is valuable. One in 400,000 (the chances of dying in a helicopter crash) is still pretty remote. For example, according to one website, your chances of dying in at a dance party are 1 in 100,000, so you are technically safer in a chopper than you are twerking, but you probably already knew that.
You also probably knew that the three companies behind the study, Reflex Marine, Enermech and Seacor Marine, are in the businesses of personnel baskets, cranes and workboats, so they definitely have a point of view on this one.
Still, it is an interesting way to look at the comparative risks of the two options.