Global energy companies Chevron, Shell, Inpex and Woodside Petroleum have agreed to jointly fund development of new systems to improve tropical cyclone forecasting in northern Australia.
The Industry Technology Facilitator, an international not-for-profit group, led the collaboration to secure funding for the two-year, $3.2 million project.
The project will be carried out by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, with the aim of improving offshore safety and mitigating costly disruptions to operations.
The new systems will improve tropical cyclone prediction and includes the associated wave fields of the Western Australian Shelf and surrounding waters.
“The research will provide tangible benefits for the oil and gas industry, with research outcomes eventually built into ongoing improvements in public weather forecasting for the community,” Bureau of Meteorology head of research Peter May said.
“Greater accuracy in cyclone forecasting will ultimately enable operators to calculate risk more effectively and improve operational decisions.”
ITF regional manager Australia Peter Brazier said the research would target enhanced prediction of the impact of tropical weather systems, and which low pressure systems were likely to continue to develop into cyclones.
He said the research was also expected to extend the number of days in advance that the bureau could accurately forecast the track of a cyclone.
“Being able to predict tropical cyclone formation and development earlier and more accurately reduces risk, improves decision making and could also reduce costs by decreasing operational down-time and unnecessary interruptions to construction operations,” Mr Brazier said.
Last month, Woodside was forced to halt production at its Pluto LNG plant for several days after Cyclone Olwyn detached a drilling rig working on Chevron's Wheatstone project, causing the rig to drift towards Pluto's subsea flowlines.