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Bristow Stands Ready for 2018 Hurricane Season

June 01, 2018

The impacts from the devastating 2017 hurricane season are still fresh on the minds of many in the Texas and Louisiana gulf coast as the 2018 hurricane season quickly approaches. The images that flooded the news cycle during Hurricane Harvey made a lasting impact that will influence how people prepare for hurricanes for many years to come.

The oil and gas industry is no stranger to hurricane preparedness and had its “wakeup call” for hurricane preparedness many years ago. In previous decades, rigs were kept operating as long as possible; everyone tested the limits, waiting until the absolute last minute to bring their people onshore. Over the years, however, too many workers missed their windows and were left to ride out hurricanes on offshore installations.

“The approach to hurricane preparedness by most clients in the past was ‘how long can I keep my people offshore and assets working,’” said Bob Old, America’s area manager for Bristow Group, Inc., the world’s largest industrial aviation services company. “Over the years, though, we’ve seen a shift to focus on the safety of personnel. Clients now seek to understand when they need to bring their people in to ensure their safety. It seems like subtle shift, but it has been extremely important and effective in keeping offshore workers safe.”

Today, the entire Gulf of Mexico oil and gas industry has extensive hurricane plans in place with a focus on safe and efficient personnel movement. The industry is also more focused on closely monitoring the weather and models as storms develop. As a helicopter operator that is responsible for getting workers safely onshore before hurricanes approach, Bristow has meticulous plans in place to ensure all workers who need to be brought onshore are safely transported ahead of the storm, before the weather becomes a limiting factor. The company also has to ensure its own people and assets are secure before the storm rolls in.

“We have refined our processes over many decades,” said Bob. “We are well prepared to get everyone and everything where they need to be safely; like a well-oiled machine.

“As we track hurricanes in the Gulf, the key is to have multiple plans ready to execute,” added Bob. “We all know that hurricanes change their track on a dime, and we’re prepared, no matter where it goes. Our plans include airports, hotels, fleets of trucks and car carriers, food, water, MREs; everything we’ll need for the duration of the event.”

When hurricane season kicks off on June 1 each year, Bob and his team regroup from the previous year, discuss lessons learned and engage with clients to ensure everyone is clear on the plan.

“The number one goal of our hurricane plans is to protect people – both our clients’ people and our own people. Then we think about protecting our assets,” said Bob. “We ensure everyone is out of the path if possible. If it’s not possible, everyone and everything is safely secured as we hunker down for the storm.”

As the 2018 hurricane season quickly approaches, Bristow stands at the ready with an eye to the Gulf.