A WEATHER prediction tool is being spruiked as having the ability to better prepare the oil and gas industry in Australia for the impacts of marine weather, which could in turn help companies avoid operational delays and costly damage from unexpected conditions.

New Zealand company MetOcean Solutions is launching the new product, known as Offshore Motion Forecasts, which delivers reliable hour-by-hour predictions on how wave, current and weather conditions will affect the response of floating offshore facilities.

The predictions are calculated for a specific location and vessel, and will help offshore operators plan ahead to mitigate against any possible disruptions caused by a particular alignment of marine conditions, as well as more routine situations involving adverse weather.

The launch comes hot on the heels of news coverage reporting on poor weather causing off-shore oilfields to close, suspending the production of tens of thousands of barrels of crude oil, and resulting in millions of dollars in losses every day.

MetOcean Solutions managing director Peter McComb said the effect of vessel roll motion on operations was a major challenge to the increasing number of floating facilities in the continental shelf and deepwater locations around the world.

“Many of the facilities on board these vessels are not designed to operate in rolling conditions, which can occur when the waves, winds and currents are not similarly aligned,” he said.

“These waves typically have a period range that will excite the rolling motion of the vessel, and that’s where the problems start.”

MetOcean Solutions claims the Offshore Motion Forecasts module solves the problem with a set of analytical equations that will work for any floating facility.

Using the specifications of the vessel, the marine weather forecast is overlayed to first predict the orientation of the vessel, hour-by-hour for the next seven days.

The heave, pitch and roll of the vessel are calculated for the seven-day forecast horizon.

Dr McComb said this information would help offshore companies make informed operational decisions for their floating facilities, based on the upcoming marine weather conditions.

“For example, they might need to load important equipment over the next few days, and if the forecast predicts unsafe roll motions they could request tug assistance to reorient the vessel and mitigate the roll motion,” he said.

The new tool will be offered to Western Australian buyers in the final quarter of 2014.