LNG titans go cyclone hunting

WITH hundreds of lives and tens of billions of dollars’ worth of infrastructure at stake, the operators of Australia’s biggest LNG mega-projects in the nation’s far north have joined forces to drive research into advancing tropical cyclone forecasting to further improve offshore safety and mitigate costly disruptions to operations.
LNG titans go cyclone hunting LNG titans go cyclone hunting LNG titans go cyclone hunting LNG titans go cyclone hunting LNG titans go cyclone hunting

Tropical cyclone research.

Anthony Barich

Woodside Petroleum, Chevron Australia, Shell Australia and Inpex will jointly fund the development of new systems to improve tropical cyclone prediction, including the associated wave fields over the Western Australian Shelf and surrounding waters.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology will carry out the two-year $3.2 million project, the funding for which has been secured thanks to collaboration driven by the Industry Technology Facilitator (ITF).

The project builds on the Bureau’s research into tropical cyclone forecast and warning services.

Forecast accuracy continues to improve through investment in three critical areas: access to high volumes of accurate, real-time weather observations; supercomputing capacity to analyse data and run higher resolution forecasting models; and research initiatives to improve forecasting models.

ITF regional manager Australia Peter Brazier said the research would focus on enhanced predictions of the impact of tropical weather systems, as well as ascertain which low pressure systems were likely to continue to develop into cyclones.

The research is also expected to extend the number of days in advance that the Bureau can accurately forecast the track of a cyclone.

“Operational planning and risk mitigation by the offshore industry requires high-quality weather and wave guidance and the ability to determine multiple scenarios to manage risk,” Brazier said.

“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.”

Bureau of Meteorology head of research Dr Peter May said the research would provide “tangible benefits” for the oil and gas industry, with research outcomes eventually built into ongoing improvements in public weather forecasting for the community.

“Greater accuracy in cyclone forecasting will ultimately enable operators to calculate risk more effectively and improve operational decisions,” he said.