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The Challenges Offshore Vessels Face in Cold Climates

Posted by Raychem Winter Expert on Nov 9, 2017 4:51:49 AM

Ever since the discovery of large quantities of natural resources in arctic environments, governments have been attracted to further exploration and development of oil. In addition to the demand for oil, the potential for minerals, fisheries, marine transport, scientific exploration and research are also increasing. Expeditions with vessels, equipment and personnel face obstacles that come with the harsh climate and extreme temperatures.


Sub-zero temperatures and ice can have a severe impact on the operations of offshore vessels in many geographical areas. Many of these operations are often remote with limited navigational and support infrastructure. The routes taken by vessels can be treacherous as the frequency and number of icebergs changes. Land transportation gets complicated in the summer, when the top layer of the permafrost melts into mud and may be unable to support heavy machinery and equipment. Weather conditions are also becoming unstable and less predictable as the weather patterns change. Additionally, ocean wave motion and forces are increasing as the polar ice cover reduces.

These harsh environments require specially designed equipment, vessels and disaster-prevention measures to be in place, causing increasing demand on engineers to meet the challenges offshore exploration faces. Whether it’s the risk of capsizing or machinery malfunctions, the risks that need to be addressed for operating vessels in these environments are a constant concern.

In modern times, most offshore vessels are now outfitted with state-of-the-art technology and have proper procedures in place as well. The requirements are massive not only for the vessels, but also for crews. Personnel safety risks are greatly increased in these areas and disasters are often intensified due to the lack of response ability from emergency teams in these remote areas. However, even with all of this protection put in place, the risk remains. Unfortunately, there have been many accidents caused either directly or indirectly due to extreme weather conditions. Even though many of the vessels travelling through these areas have modern winterization protection, the constant threat of the sub-zero temperatures is still a great danger to vessels and the crews aboard.

The demand for oil is staggering and will require further exploration of these arctic areas to meet the world’s requirements for it. Great progress has been made in the past few decades but further advancement in equipment to withstand ice, snow, wind and other extreme elements to protect personnel is necessary.

Read more about this topic in our whitepaper dedicated to winterization techniques for offshore and marine environments:


Topics: Winter Performance, Industrial Applications, Winter Safety, Electric Heat Tracing, Marine Environment, Winterization, Offshore Environment

About our blog

Winter is a time to enjoy, not to fear the hardships it sometimes brings. In this blog, our Raychem Winter Experts share knowledge and tips on how to take the stress out of the colder days of the year. We specialize in keeping:

  • processes and operations running smoothly in industrial environments
  • buildings, infrastructure and the people using them safe from harm in commercial and residential environments.

No matter how extreme the weather conditions, Raychem winter solutions offer the best insurance for your processes and property against snow and ice-related emergencies.

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