A new animal-friendly system uses sound and lasers to keep birds off marine oil platforms to prevent the build-up of excrement on helidecks.
The system, developed by energy giant Total and the Netherlands-based Bird Control Group, could make off-shore oil rigs safer for workers and reduce the cost of helideck maintenance.
Bird guano frequently accumulates on the platforms to the point that almost no surface is left visible. According to the UK Civil Aviation Authority, cases have been reported where guano covered up to 90 per cent of the surface of a helideck, with the annual cost of cleaning climbing to €100,000 (£70,000).
“By implementing this bird-repelling system, Total is the first oil company in the world to integrate its offshore activities with nature in such a sustainable way”, said Steiner Henskes, CEO of Bird Control Group, which specialises in developing innovative systems to keep birds at a distance from places where they could potentially cause harm, such as airports, real estate or agricultural sites.
The technology, dubbed the Aerolaser Helipad, is fully automated and can be configured to fit the specific conditions of an installation. It has received a seal of approval from the World Wildlife Fund for its minimal impact on the environment.
“We are always looking to improve safety across our operations,” said Yvonne Hoddenbach, Manager PR & Communications of Total E&P Nederlands.
“We are proud to be the first company to install the device and we are confident it will help to improve health and safety on our platforms.”
Total is already testing the system at one platform and plans to install it at three other locations.
“We want to provide our crew and passengers with safe working conditions and this includes a safe landing offshore”, said Jack van Sligter, Helideck Inspector at CHC Helicopter. “Pilots are glad to see actions are being taken to improve the situation.”