Ships at anchorage have been asked to move to a safer area in the sea while oil and gas installations will go into “survival” mode as they brace for Cyclone Yaas to make landfall between Dhamra Port and Balasore on the Odisha coast.
Cyclone Yaas, equivalent to a category 3 hurricane, is the second severe storm to hit India’s coasts in a span of about 10 days.
A major contingency plan has been put in place to mitigate the impact of the cyclone on oil and gas installations, an official statement said.
Odisha coast has two major ports at Dhamra and Paradip and a huge oil refinery at Paradip. West Bengal hosts a major port at Haldia.
Oil and gas exploration and production installations are designed to withstand cyclones. There are also smaller ports along the coast.
“The oil and gas industry has made all arrangements to maintain adequate petroleum product, CNG, LPG stock at all the dealerships in the area expected to be hit by the cyclone,” it said. “Disaster Control Room at Corporate and Divisional level has been set up by the oil and gas companies.”
The contingency plan includes suspending all critical operations once the cyclone intensity increases, shutdown of identified oil and gas installations before wind speed exceeds 60-80 kmph, and all vessels at anchorage moved to safe areas away from the path of the cyclone.
Offshore oil and gas installations will go into what is called a “survival” mode — halting movements and going into a cocoon.
Ports, refineries and plants are on high alert.
Indian Oil Corp (IOC), the nation’s biggest oil firm, stopped unloading crude oil at Paradip in Odisha and asked all ships to move 250 nautical miles away from the path of the cyclone.
Both Paradip Port Trust and Dhamra Port have asked all vessels at anchorage to move to a safer area in the sea, while those alongside berths have been asked to keep their main engines ready to move to sea at short notice.
“Oil industry officials are in close coordination with Paradip and Haldia Port authorities on the berthing and de-berthing of vessels/barges at jetties.
“Activities at all project sites have been temporarily suspended, and the workers have been moved out to ensure their safety. All ships carrying petroleum products and crude oil have been advised to keep a safe distance from the cyclone’s path,” the statement said.
However, the industry is geared up to ensure a continuous supply of petroleum products and other essential commodities, including medical oxygen, for continued COVID-19 management.
“All-out efforts are underway to ensure that the supply of Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) from the eastern part of India to the rest of the country doesn’t get affected by the cyclonic storm,” it noted.
Installations have been asked to follow standard operating procedures as per the Emergency Response Disaster Management Plan.
“All stormwater drains have been checked and cleaned,” it said, adding electrical/diesel pumps for removal of water from electrical trenches and other places have been arranged.
All high mast towers light fixtures have been lowered and all temporary connections removed. Transporters have been advised to park vehicles at a safe place en route to the destination in heavy rains/winds.
At aviation fuelling stations, provisions are in place to provide mobile refuelling near to calamity site for meeting rescue/relief air operations, it added.
At oil loading and unloading arms of ports, no crude oil tanker is allowed at the Single Point Mooring (SPM) in the run up to the landfall of the storm.
SPM hoses and hawsers have been secured to prevent damage. Maintenance and support vessels have returned to shore.
At ONGC drilling sites, all supply vessels have been moved to safe locations.
At the oil storage cavern at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, barring essential operational activities, all work has been suspended until the cyclone subsides to minimise the number of staff present at the terminal.
Also, pipeline transfer of LPG has been suspended.
At IOC’s Haldia and Paradip refineries, additional workforce in each shift have been kept for effective manning and emergency handling.
Also, hospitals have been adequately manned and ambulances kept on standby for handling any medical emergencies. First aid kits have been replenished at all locations.
Other humanitarian efforts to help people in distress include stocking enough LPG cylinders at all cyclone shelters in close coordination with district authorities, making arrangements for standby diesel generators for hospitals as well as stocking diesel at the major hospitals in anticipation of power failure.
All fuel stations have been topped up with sufficient stocks to prevent any fuel shortage. Also, all LPG cylinder bookings are being cleared on priority in the areas likely to be affected.