The Coastal and Marine Operators (CAMO) group launched the world’s first pipeline safety effort and successfully completed the first step in rolling out a major initiative to protect the safety of mariners, the environment and pipelines from being damaged. In August, 2015, CAMO began transmitting Automatic Information System (AIS) safety messages directly to mariners in two charted pipeline corridors in Port Fourchon, significantly improving their situational awareness by providing immediate alerts for vessels in close proximity to submerged pipelines.
The first phase of CAMO’s AIS-based pipeline damage prevention and awareness program was launched in partnership with the Greater Lafourche Port Commission (Port Fourchon) and Oceaneering®, a global provider of engineered services and products primarily to the offshore oil and gas industry. When the PortVision service detects a vessel operating at a speed less than 0.5 knots for three minutes or more within one of these corridors, an addressed, one-time AIS Safety Related Message is immediately transmitted directly to the vessel’s wheelhouse that says, “PIPELINE BELOW.”
These vessel safety messages use existing AIS technology that is already deployed on most commercially operated vessels. The system makes it easier for mariners to know where and when to take protective measures as they transit or operate near submerged pipelines. CAMO originally focused on the Gulf Coast and Gulf of Mexico but quickly found that inland marine assets were also at risk with no protection. They look forward to a successful roll-out in other ports nationwide.
CAMO is a non-profit industry group focused on all aspects of marine safety and was developed with a goal to diminish the gap between onshore and offshore spills, releases, and pipeline damage prevention initiatives. A key component of this group’s mission is to educate marine stakeholders and the public about the risks that damage to offshore utilities and pipelines can pose to personal safety and the environment. Although pipeline operators have vigorous inspection and maintenance programs to insure the integrity of their assets, the risk of third-party damage to a pipeline is a continual threat. Most every company has assets that cross rivers, lakes, bays, etc., and damage prevention programs need to address these situations. Being a member of CAMO and using their materials may help to fill that need.