Weather in the Margins: Leading Cable Laying Company Made Tough Call with Accurate Weather Data

Companies working in the offshore industry are no strangers to making difficult decisions and tough calls in the margins based on weather forecasts. For a world-leading cable systems company operating on a project in the North Sea, this is a familiar situation. Last summer, the marine project operations team had to make a close call based on a weather forecast, which was the difference between saving and losing millions of Euros.


The weather turned unexpectedly


During a cable laying operation in the German Bight, weather conditions seemed ideal. The wind was calm. The weather forecasts all showed these favorable conditions would be maintained for the duration of work - all except for one. This single forecast predicted a significant change in wind direction and speed, which, if accurate, posed a severe risk to safety.


The marine project operations team was continually checking the forecasts during the project execution. They kept up a constant dialogue with the weather room, continually scrutinizing the feasibility of continuing the work.


The outlier forecast posed a real dilemma for the team. At the time it emerged, the cable was already in the ocean. Continuing the work in unsafe weather conditions posed a risk to both the crew and equipment; they could cause the cable to snap. This scenario could add up to 15 days to a project, as the crew would have to find the cable and re-do the survey before continuing the work - not ideal when timings on projects are already tight.


However, if the forecast was wrong and they cut the cable unnecessarily, they would have to spend in the region of €4 million to reconnect the cable.


Making tough decisions based on accurate weather data


The marine project operations teams had to make the call: cut the cable and halt work, based on the forecast from one source, or continue work, with the risk that the one forecast is right and the cable would snap. They made the decision: they cut the cable.


A decision vindicated by the weather conditions


After cutting the cable, the wind speeds exceeded the workability thresholds for over three hours. This change, combined with a critical shift in wind direction, vindicated the decision to halt work.


Only the MeteoGroup weather forecasting service predicted this sudden change. Without this information - and the team’s trust in the forecast accuracy - work may have continued in unsafe conditions.


If the operations teams had not made the call, if they had relied on other forecasting services and free resources, the company would have faced substantial financial losses if the cable snapped.


Why did they trust the MeteoGroup forecast against the rest? It comes down to confidence in the forecast accuracy in the margins. Working collaboratively with the weather room, and leaning on its meteorological expertise, unlocks valuable insight. This useful information, and collaboration with experts, simply isn't available from a basic weather service.



Accurate weather forecasts support decisions making


Metocean conditions can adversely affect the safety of operations conducted both on and around offshore installations. Accurate weather helps offshore companies address the main concerns and pressures that come with working offshore: managing costs, keeping projects on track, and ensuring the crew and assets are safe.


For the leading cable laying company (renowned for providing state of the art solutions for high voltage underground and submarine cable links in some of the world's most challenging conditions), monitoring the weather forecast is essential to maintain safety and minimize weather-related disruption to operations. For them, and others working in the offshore industry, accurate weather forecasts can be the difference between profitability and financial losses on projects.


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