Accident & Investigation issues dominate Maritime Potpourri
Among the various topics deliberated on at the Maritime Potpourri issues relating to deaths amongst Indian seafarers and difficulties in making proper assessment as well as E&P operations in the Indian offshore sector took center stage
The Maritime Potpourri 2013 of the Company of Master Mariners of India held last weekend turned out to be a powerful message to the seafaring community, the government and the people at large. It brought into focus issues such as deaths and suicides of India seafarers taking place since the past few years.
Capt T. K. Panda, Sr Training Superintendent of Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (I) Pvt Ltd. gave an interesting account of what an effective investigation should achieve when examining incidents and accidents. He highlighted the role of incident investigation under the Tanker Management and Self Assessment (TMSA), the cause factors, sequence leading to accidents, and the circumstances leading to undesired incidents together with the various techniques of marine accident investigations that are in vogue for finding the root or basic cause. He also took up a case study of the grounding of a container vessel off the coast of Singapore.
Capt Harish Khatri, Dy. Director General (Technical) spoke about the Indian seafarers missing at sea. He informed that from whatever information was available about cases of Indian seafarers committing suicides at sea was mostly incomplete. He cautioned that the number that has come to the DGS’s notice could just be the tip of the iceberg. In many cases the information coming in is of “seafarers reported to be missing”. “Besides, in most such cases the information that is finally made available to us is inadequate and of not much help in tackling the problem or to come to a concert solution to the problem,” he pointed out.
Capt Khatri informed that it is difficult to ascertain what compelled the seafarers to take the extreme step as there is not enough evidence. Eventually the investigating officer has nothing much to go by – only conjectures or hearsay. At times investigations throw up misleading results and information making it difficult to conclude as to whether it was a suicide or an accident.
Veering off on to a another interesting topic Capt K Devdas, Sr V.P. for Offshore Services at the Shipping Corporation of India provided an encapsulated account of the Indian offshore scene and how the Exploration and Production (E&P) program was evolving. The dearth of energy and the growing demand for oil and gas has served as a driver for the incessant search that has been going on in the offshore.
“Demand for crude oil in India has increased by about 97% since 2000-01,” stated Capt Devdas. “Indian crude production has been steadily growing from 17.5% from 2000 to 2012. To fill the gap between production and demand, the country has had to depend on imports of oil and gas which have surged by 132%. To help accelerate the exploration activity the government came up with the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP). The deepwater basins where the government is focusing on are Bengal, Mahanadi, Krishna-Godavari, Palar, Cauvery, Kutch- Saurashtra, Mumbai, Kerala-Konkan and Andaman Basins.
He explained that according to the new developments in NELP bidders have to quote the amount of oil and gas which will be offered to the government from the beginning of the production. Currently, E&P companies can recover their cost first and thereafter share the profits. But the situation in the E&P activity in the Indian offshore is pathetic since there are more overseas players operating than Indian companies.
Several challenges are being faced. As the exploration activity goes in to the deeper waters the need for high end vessels is mounting. Anchor handlers with higher bollard pull, vessels with dynamic positioning capabilities, vessels with more space for cargo operations, increased accommodation, operators for anchor handlers, experienced manpower in all offshore and deepwater activity, are some of the major shortfalls which are being met from overseas players.
The Potpourri culminated with a panel discussions on the implementation of the Maritime Labor Convention which comes into force this month provided a fair picture about the industry’s preparedness. It appeared that nearly all Indian ships are well on the way to getting certified prior to the MLC deadline. The new vessels to be constructed would have to comply with the MLC requirement otherwise ship owners wanting to sell off their vessels will face difficulties. The next step would be the implementation of the MLC for coastal vessels.