Construction is a continuously evolving field. Offshore construction is a representative example of that. The ability of the industry to expand its activities in the marine environment played a significant role in its financial growth. It goes without saying that offshore construction unlocked a completely new field with great opportunities and challenges.
Of course, offshore construction doesn’t have only strong advantages. There are certain disadvantages or difficulties that come with it, too.
We will try to shed some light on the positive and negative aspects of offshore construction. First, though, it is more than necessary to describe what this term actually stands for.
What offshore construction is
Offshore construction covers a wide spectrum of facilities built away from the shore. Thanks to these structures, the production of valuable resources such as oil, electricity and gas is possible. The transmission or transportation of these resources onshore is part of the whole process, as well.
The form of an offshore structure varies depending on the resources that is designed to produce and transmit. For instance, wind farms have a totally different shape and way of function than oil platforms. In that sense, they have different benefits and points of concern.
As far as the building procedure of the platforms is concerned, the most common practice is the manufacturing of the whole structure onshore. This solution simplifies the construction process and facilitates the people working on the project due to the easier transportation of both the materials and the equipment. However, there also are cases where the construction process takes place in the open sea. Special vessels that allow the completion of the project are used in such occasions.
Types of offshore structures
Different kinds of offshore facilities cover different needs. Some of the main types of offshore structures could be summed up to the following:
Oil and gas platforms
Oil and gas platforms probably are the most common offshore structures. There are two types of platforms. The floating facilities that float close to the surface and the fixed structures which are extending to the bottom of the ocean. The floating structures are more recent than the fixed facilities. Both types of oil platforms have special corrosion protection.
The wind farms have a tremendous contribution to the production of electric power. The installation of wind turbines in the sea is preferred due to the increased efficiency in terms of energy production in comparison to onshore wind turbines. The stronger winds over the sea help a lot in the production of higher amounts of electric energy.
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The submarine pipelines are part of geotechnical engineering. Their main scope of work is the transportation of oil and gas. There are many different parameters that have to be taken into account when subsea pipelines are installed, as they have to harmoniously fit their surroundings.
Offshore construction: The main benefits
Offshore construction has a critical contribution to our industry. Below you can find some of the most crucial benefits that may come with it:
The case of the wind farms is a very indicative example in this case. The stronger winds over the sea are helping toward the production of higher amounts of electricity compared to onshore facilities. Another good example would be the cutback of the transmission pipeline for gas. This can have a very positive impact on transportation costs. It’s evident then that offshore construction can have some multi-sided benefits in the construction process.
Offshore construction is a special and challenging field. It requires a certain amount of special skills and expertise. That being said, offshore construction is creating new opportunities for the job market. What is more, the majority of these jobs are well-paid and of high prestige due to the difficulties and challenges that an offshore construction worker has to face.
Sometimes your customers might simply be too far from you. Depending on the geographical position of your offshore structures, you may have a strong card up your sleeve. Thanks to offshore construction, you have the option to install the platform closer to your client’s area of interest. In that manner, you can save a great amount of financial and energy resources in equipment and material transportation.
The fact that the used equipment is installed at sea provides a great advantage when we are focusing on the cooling process. The easy and quick access to seawater facilitates the cooling of the equipment and optimizes the function of the platform/wind farm in general.
Impact on the environment
The absence of an onshore working site can be an environmentally friendly choice in many cases. If done right, offshore construction can contribute to the minimization of the human interference on the ecosystem. On the other hand, we can’t reach to any safe conclusions before we analyze in depth the effect of offshore structures on the marine ecosystem.
The main struggles
By now, it’s clear that offshore construction is a greatly beneficial field of activity within our industry. Nevertheless, there still are some critical points of concern that cannot be ignored. After a quick search, we have listed the main pains that offshore construction has to deal with below:
Putting together a complex building structure onshore is one thing. But having to transfer or create the same structure offshore is another. Today’s cutting edge technology has played a substantial role in simplifying this process but the challenges are still there. The weather phenomena and the creation of solid structures that could endure the difficulties posed by the sea environment are only some of those pains.
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When you are supervising an offshore construction project from a distance, it can be really tough to retain control over it. You have to establish strong communication channels with the contractor(s) who work on the platform. Making sure that every step is followed according to the plan is fundamental. Online project management solutions can offer great help toward that direction.
We mentioned earlier that offshore construction can be beneficial for the onshore environment. On the other side, there still are strong concerns regarding its impact on the marine life. More specifically, it is not yet totally apparent the extent to which offshore platforms can affect and put in danger the presence of sea animals. For that reason, a detailed environmental study should always be conducted prior the beginning of an offshore project.
Offshore construction is a huge step forward for the industry. It unlocks new opportunities and resources for the whole planet. Nonetheless, it has to be done right. Carefully elaborated plans have to be followed in order to make sure that we are taking the most out of the offshore structures while minimizing risk.