Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology

RSS Subscribe to email

New tropical cyclone research delivers benefits to the oil and gas industry


New research from the Bureau of Meteorology, in partnership with oil and gas industry leaders, will deliver better tropical cyclone forecasts for offshore facilities – improving safety and reducing costs.

The two-year research program, jointly funded by Shell, Woodside, Chevron and INPEX, developed new meteorological modeling that produces longer range and more detailed tropical cyclone forecasts. It also helps predict the threat of destructive cyclone waves off the coast of Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Bureau Resource Sector Manager, Andrew Burton said the improvements will allow oil and gas operators to make better informed decisions when preparing their offshore infrastructure for the potential impacts of cyclones.

“This new research allows us to paint a much clearer picture of the threat from a tropical cyclone at a particular location, three to seven days ahead of the event.

“For the first time, offshore operators can receive an objective analysis of the risk at their location at timescales that match their operational response planning.

“The research team worked very closely with the industry to understand their particular needs, and to design and develop a system that specifically addressed the problems that they face.”

“Another important new capability is guidance around wave conditions associated with cyclones. Offshore operators will now have a better insight into the highest wave conditions that could be experienced at a location – allowing them to safely relocate ships or de-man facilities if required,” said Mr Burton.

Jan Flynn, Lead Met Ocean Engineer at Shell Australia, said the impacts of tropical cyclones on the oil and gas industry can be costly, both in terms of safety and financially and that the benefits of the project are good news for industry.

“Tropical cyclones cause major disruptions to offshore operations, as well as potential damage to infrastructure. It takes time to prepare an offshore facility for a tropical cyclone, incurring additional exposure for our personnel and in the past we’ve seen facilities shut down and de-manned unnecessarily due to the uncertainty in the forecast.

“The exciting new capability from this joint partnership will allow oil and gas operators to make better informed decisions much earlier and on a more objective basis than previously possible, reducing the number of events where we respond unnecessarily,” she said.

For over 100 years the Bureau's expert environmental intelligence has been essential for the safety, sustainability, security, well-being and prosperity of all residents and businesses operating in Australia.

To learn more about our research and scientific solutions, contact or visit our research pages for the wide range of our research programs.