Vessel vs. Platform
Offshore oil and gas production is complex, involving many different players and facets. Essentially, the industry involves two main tasks: extracting the materials and transferring them to a refinery to be prepared for marketing. These tasks involve two main types of different yet equally important equipment: vessels and platforms (rigs). Platforms are stationary structures while vessels are large ships responsible for transporting oil, supplies, and personnel. The industry would not perform the way it does without one or the other but these two types of oil equipment are very different by nature.
Colloquially known as oil rigs, oil platforms are large stationary structures placed offshore to extract, process, and temporarily store oil and natural gas until it is transported onshore. Most oil platforms are fixed to the ocean floor by braces or consist of an artificial island if large enough. Others, known as floating vessels, serve as processing and storage platforms for nearby stationary platforms. Maritime offshore oil platforms are some of the largest moveable structures in the world.
There are many different drilling and storage rigs:
- Fixed Platforms (Concrete or Steel Legs)
- Compliant Towers (Flexible)
- Jack-Up Drilling Rigs (Mobile Drilling Units)
- Drillships (Vessel)
- Tension Leg Platforms (TLP)
- Spar Platforms (Moored)
While oil platforms are primarily responsible for extracting the oil and gas, these valuable materials must be transported onshore in order to be refined and prepared for actual use. That is where the role of vessels comes into play.
Offshore & Oil Vessels
As platforms and rigs extract or pump oil and gas upward from the ground, vessels contribute to the industry by providing a form of transport. Depending on the type of vessel, this portion of the oil and gas industry provides the access, man-power, and supplies needed to ensure every other aspect of the industry continues to perform efficiently.
There are different types of vessels responsible for different tasks:
Oil tankers are large merchant ships designed for transporting large amounts of oil from platforms to land.
Platform Supply Vessel:
Much like the name suggests, these vessels are primarily designed to provide supply transportation to and from oil platforms. Supplies include cargo such as fuel and chemicals as well as support, including specialty tools.
Tugboats / Towboats:
These vessels are small, powerful machines that pull or push oil platforms, barges, and disabled ships to and from shore.
Vessels and platforms each involve a different set or crew of workers with specialized skills. These offshore workers are fundamental to the oil and gas industry and they face countless dangers at work on a daily basis. If you or a loved one was injured working an offshore job on a vessel or platform, contact Arnold & Itkin LLP to learn how we can help you!