Safety first

For every offshore oil and gas operation, regardless of size, equipment used, or the environment being worked in, safety remains the paramount concern.

As such, it is vital that companies exist that are dedicated to the research and development of safe operating practices. Norway’s NUI AS is one such business, providing the subsea market with a broad range of services that includes advanced research and development programmes, hyperbariccontingency and performance testing, training programmes, and pressure/equipment testing.

For more than 30 years the business has expertly combined its unique blend of human assets and cutting edge technical and research competence to maintain its position as a major contributor to the safety and cost efficiency of manned and unmanned subsea interventions.

Eirik Myrseth, managing director at NUI, explains more about the range of services that the business can offer: “Today, the main activities of NUI include the contingency plans and preparation for the reception of hyperbaric rescue units in our specially developed hyperbaric chambers. In addition we have a great deal of competence in operations and research and development in diving medicine, toxicology, physiology and chemistry, which allows us to offer a broad range of consultancy services for diving and underwater operations.”

Despite the vast range of services available at NUI, the company is predominantly recognised as a leader in the field of hyperbaric contingency, designed to cover oil and gas operators’ needs for an advanced hyperbaric reception centre that can be used for the evacuation of divers under pressure from vessels and platforms. “When it comes to the reception of hyperbaric rescue units I believe that our facility is unique,” says Eirik. “They are extremely specialised units, and we have built up a considerable experience in their operation since we developed our system in 1987.

“It consists of a purpose-built reception and decompression facility capable of taking all types of hyperbaric rescue units, including hyperbaric lifeboats,” he continues. “At present the facilities can take up to 24 divers at once, at a pressure equivalent to 250 MSW. More recently, we have built an A-frame with a diving bell, which can connect to one of the chambers and be lifted into the sea. This means that we can easily run a full transfer under pressure from chamber to bell for training purposes.”

In addition to hyperbaric contingency operations, NUI has considerable experience in research and development in a number of fields, including diving medicine and toxicology. The company’s several laboratories are used for various studies and activities dedicated to making diving and underwater operations safer.  Eirik elaborates: “We run scientific research programmes in a number of fields, in very close collaboration with local universities and other research institutions in Norway. I think that this kind of collaboration benefits both parties, because in terms of the academic competence in diving medicine and physiology the Norwegian research institutes are among the best in the world.”

More recently the business has commenced offering a range of training courses to various sectors of the offshore industry: “We are currently certified to run two training courses,” Eirik explains. “An ROV pilots course, which is approved by IMCA (International Marine Contractors Association), and a course for assistant life-support technicians. This is also audited and approved by IMCA. In close cooperation with the diving education at the University College in Bergen we are currently running saturation diving courses.”

NUI’s experience in the advancement of safety for the offshore sector means that the company understands that such high standards do not rely on technology alone. The business appreciates that its target group is based on personnel working in environments that place the highest demands on medical and physical fitness.

“In the early days of the business, when we began carrying out manned dives in the hyperbaric system there were very stringent requirements for the physical fitness of the divers,” Eirik explains. “Consequently, we built up competence both in evaluating and testing the physical fitness of all divers and workers using the systems. Today, due to legislation, offshore workers need to be certified fit enough to carry out operations. In response to this, we offer our evaluating and testing competence to a range of operations, including divers, rescue workers, fire fighters/smoke divers and vessel/rig personnel, to certify people as safe to operate offshore.”

Looking ahead, it is clear that the level of competency at NUI, combined with the technology that it can provide, will enable it to benefit from the buoyant market conditions. “We aim to continue to develop our services further, improving them to better serve the customers,” say Eirik. “I believe that the only real challenge that we face in moving forwards will be in finding the experienced personnel that are needed to maintain the high standards of the business. However, we already have plans in place to address this, and are investing in educating our existing staff and actively scanning the market for candidates to operational positions.

“Ultimately, I would like to see NUI become a strong, well recognised leader in supporting manned and unmanned subsea operations, whilst continuing to evolve and improve the safety standards of the industry,” he concludes.


Services: Hyperbaric contingency and reception services