Award bestowed on offshore industry veteran

Paul Boughton

The award is in recognition of Carl Arne Carlsen’s “outstanding, significant and unique achievements, and extensive contributions” to the offshore industry, and was presented at the Annual OTC Dinner Sunday, May 4.

Carlsen’s career highlights coincide with major developments in the offshore industry, in part because he helped shape those developments.

The defining moment of his career came in 1980, as a direct consequence of the tragic accident of the semisubmersible drilling rig, Alexander Kielland, which cost the lives of 123 workers in severe weather on the Norwegian shelf when it capsized after a column broke off due to fatigue failure of a bracing. A few days after the accident Carlsen was appointed head of classification for mobile offshore units (MOU) in DNV and requested to lead the work on developing a new set of MOU rules to cope with the harsh environment in the North Sea. In cooperation with the Norwegian Maritime Directorate, the new rules were issued in 1981, introducing new industry principles for more robust design, construction and in-service inspection. They were almost immediately adopted throughout the industry, and provided important input to the IMO’s (the UN’s International Maritime Organization) 1989 MODU Code.

After years of tragic and sudden accidents for oil tankers and bulk carriers, the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS), in 1992 set up a working group on enhanced surveys to come up with new requirements for in-service inspection of these ship types. Led by Carlsen, the group developed the Enhanced Survey Program. Nine months later it was made mandatory by IMO for all oil tankers and bulk carriers worldwide and key aspects are today also applied by DNV GL for mobile offshore units.

”During my work to develop new rules and standards for the offshore industry I have learnt that it is often not the technical challenges that pose the biggest hurdles. The most difficult part is to find cost-effective practical solutions that can gain acceptance among the various stakeholders in the industry and by the regulatory authorities,” Carlsen comments. In his experience, the way to succeed is ”to be determined to strike the right balance between theory and practice, safety and cost efficiency through respectful involvement of all stakeholders. And you have to work together with really smart and principled people!”

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