Oil industry helping accuracy of weather forecasts

WEATHER data reports obtained from over 104 oil and gas platforms and installations across the North Sea are now being used to improve forecasts by the Met Office, as well as improving the safety of offshore helicopter flights, it was revealed today.

Oil and gas platforms and installations are helping the Met Office improve the accuracy of weather forecasts. Picture: Reuters

Helimet was originally established by Britain’s oil and gas industry as an internet-based weather data network, designed to share data between UK offshore installations and helicopter operators.

But Oil & Gas UK has announced that the system is now being used to enable forecasters to predict and analyse weather patterns more accurately than ever before.

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Robert Paterson, the health and safety director of Oil & Gas UK, said: “Helimet is an internet-based weather data network originally designed to share data between UK offshore installations and helicopter operators. This collaboration is a great example of how cutting edge data technology, driven by the oil and gas industry can be of great value to other areas.”

He explained: “Helimet uses a network of automated weather stations located on offshore oil and gas platforms and mobile installations. They provide detailed reports of cloud, visibility and weather and in some instances, information of wave conditions. These data are fed into a network allowing more accurate definition of the weather across the North Sea, an area prone to adverse weather conditions.”

Mr Paterson added: “The safety of the offshore workforce is the absolute priority for the offshore oil and gas industry. Up to date and accurate weather forecasting allows the managers of installations in the North Sea to operate in a safe environment and the helicopter pilots to fly as safely as possible.“

John Mitchell, the Met Office’s metocean advisor, said data from Helimet was making a significant contribution to the Met Office’s ability to accurately monitor and provide weather advice.

Said Mr Mitchell: “Accurate guidance is critical to the safe and efficient operation of not only the oil and gas industry but also the wider offshore renewables, shipping and aviation activity.

In addition, coastal communities will benefit through the more accurate analysis of wave activity and potentially damaging surge events as recently experienced along the east coast of England.”