Aussie entrepreneur launches safety training system for oil & gas industry

Rick Parish, Founder of Aquarius Global

Rick Parish, the Aussie entrepreneur who founded Marine & Offshore Group (M&O Group) ­­– a mobile offshore safety training for the oil and gas industries in the 1990s firm – announced that his company Aquarius Global has launched a new mobile safety training system that is set to raise the standards and the benchmark yet again for offshore safety training globally.

Mobile Offshore Safety Training (MOST) – a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi based investment and holding firm Aquarius Global – developed the “INSITU” system, which will once again redefine the nature of offshore safety training using the latest tech and simulations with state-of-the-art equipment, advanced techniques and procedures, and top safety training instruction.

What is the market offering of Aquarius Global?

The new INSITU mobile safety training system prepares all personnel operating on oil platforms, oil rigs and drilling decks for a wide range of emergency safety training. It also provides valuable safety training while personnel are being transported between the offshore and onshore installations, preparing for a range of emergency scenarios, ranging from helicopters ditching, survival mode in the sea, to emergency life raft deployment and failure.

The modular training platform means that any configuration can be constructed to the clients’ requirements, from a basic training facility to a more advanced full-scale option. The training planforms include dedicated classroom facilities if required with any combination of scenarios delivered to the Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organisation (OPITO) standard.

INSITU’s modular system allows it to be assembled and disassembled for rapid deployment with specialist training teams. The new system comes pre-loaded with more than 200 safety training courses developed by one of the world’s largest offshore training companies.

It can be operational within three months anywhere in the world, unlike fixed-structure safety training centres, which take up to 24 months to develop and build. The modular system allows it to be fully scalable from a small system of three pods up to a more advanced option of 10 pods, catering for every emergency scenario on an offshore oil platform.

Personnel receive the very highest standards of safety training delivered from a team of highly experienced instructors with over 27 years specialist expertise to become qualified at a global standard and, depending on the clients’ requirements for it to be OPITO-approved.

Standard training resources

The standard training centre resource includes:

  • A 10-metre heated pool complete with a Helicopter Underwater Escape Training (HUET) system and heli-winch simulator
  • Totally Enclosed Motor Propelled Survival Craft (TEMPSC) emergency lifeboat training module including a separate pool with boarding platforms
  • Fire extinguisher and self-rescue module including smokehouse
  • Equipment servicing facilities
  • Pool pumps, heaters and filtration equipment

Advanced training resources

Advanced options available are

  • Smokehouse and Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) rescue module
  • Advanced fire fighting module
  • Confined space training and rescue  module
  • Helideck emergency response module
  • Paramedic training module
  • Working at heights module

What were the executive’s thoughts on the firm?

Chairman of Aquarius Global Rick Parish whose global operations are based in Abu Dhabi said, “‘Train, learn, rehearse. Train, learn, rehearse.’ Those vital words can make all the difference in offshore safety training, and which one day could save many lives. The oil and gas industry by its very nature is extremely dangerous and hazardous because the work environment is a floating structure in the sea with flammable substances and machinery under pressure.”

“When a serious incident such as a fire, explosion or emergency occurs, the space in which to tackle that incident is also dynamic  and fast changing. The safety training provided needs to reflect that dynamic and prepare the workforce for all eventualities and outcomes.”

Rick Parish continued, “M&O Group has played a pivotal and leading role in the development of the mobile offshore safety training systems for the last three decades in the oil and gas sectors. These tragic events serve as a reminder to us of the vital necessity that all offshore personnel receive the very highest level of safety training with regular refresher programs.”

“The new INSITU safety training system provides clients with a truly versatile mobile safety training system that is futureproofed for offshore safety training and provides rapid capability. It has been conceived and designed against a backdrop of our extensive 27 years’ experience and knowledge of  the oil and gas industry and as innovators and providers of world class safety training. Efficiency and effectiveness are at the forefront of everything we do.”

“The INSITU modular system can be deployed anywhere in the world and can be configured to a client’s unique requirements with a three-month lead time to operational readiness.”

“This minimises capital costs considerably, provides rapid training for personnel and allows for the system to be relocated to other locations globally, providing a cost-effective mobile solution.  We combine the latest technology, safety and emergency training techniques with real-life simulations and world-class safety training instructors,” Rick Parish further said.

Rick Parish added: “When I formed M&O Group, we set out to pioneer the very highest standards of offshore safety training. I am glad to say that 27 years later, we are still defining and shaping the very high standards and excellence –­ not just in offshore safety training systems, but also onshore, led by our highly experienced  COO Mark Peck and his team.”

“Our track record and reputation in this sector has been achieved by striving for the very highest standards of training and instruction from our teams using the latest para-rescue and safety training methods, complimented by the latest technologies and simulation techniques.”

Why is the solutions a reprieve for the sector?

The impact on human life and the environment resulting from an accident also cannot be ignored. We have to look back in history at incidents like the Piper Alpha oil rig disaster in the North Sea which killed 167 people, the Alexander L Kielland disaster where the platform tilted 30 degrees, eventually capsizing and of the 212 workers on board only 89 survived.

The Deepwater Horizon tragedy not only resulted in a tragic loss of life but was associated with one of the biggest environmental disasters of the last 50 years that has cost in excess of $65bn to clean-up. This accident had a significant bearing on the lives of all people who lived around the shores of the Gulf, and not only those who worked in the Energy Sector.

When Australian Parish sold M&O Group to the Wood Group (Aberdeen Scotland) for $25m, at the time it was the second largest provider of offshore safety training in the world  with operations in 13 countries. It revolutionised the oil and gas industry by making the safety training systems mobile and transportable, allowing for the first “plug and play” systems to be quickly dismantled and loaded onto a helicopter to be transported anywhere in the world.

But what also makes Parish and his MOST team unique to other offshore safety training providers is the exceptional training provided by their directing staff of world class instructors.

Entrepreneur and veteran Parish, who served in the Australian special forces and Australian para-rescue services, pooled his extensive military and para-rescue training knowledge to develop a system that was portable and could be taught by a small but highly qualified and effective two-to-three-man team, with a rapid deployment capability anywhere in the world.

The model drew on the same principles of special forces training. The principals completed their own HUET training in 1984. M&O began training on the original “orange two-seater” portable HUET trainer in 1995, having recognised that an unfilled gap existed in the industry.

Up until this point all the offshore safety training was being conducted in Aberdeen and a handful of other major regional cities. Portable on-site training was an attractive and sought after solution, for companies who operated in the remote areas of emerging markets.

The uniqueness of the 1st generation HUET Trainers (Ditchers)  meant training  could be carried out both onshore and offshore sites and was even set up and used in local swimming pools. It provided safe and extremely realistic  helicopter escape training that would prepare oil and gas industry personnel to cope with any range of emergency scenarios. M&O single-handedly raised the standards and the bar for industry safety training with this development.

For the first time it gave the industry the ability to provide high quality, realistic and simulated training  to its workforce, that was commercially focussed, and which ultimately would help save lives. M&O provided emergency training in locations that up until then had not received any of this type of ditcher training previously. In 2000, this was then followed by the development of the 2nd generation MOST variant, as the next phase of global operations.

This was to meet the growing demand for OPITO approved training in emerging markets, the training involved higher student numbers and more complex and advanced programs were being sought by its clients. As part of these requirements, M&O then expanded its training centre capability by developing bespoke training centres in 13 countries.