Bridge the gap between operations & engineering
Bridge the gap between operations & engineering


In many aspects oil and gas offshore topsides are similar to seagoing ships: they are designed as a self-supporting working and living environment at sea. They both have accommodation facilities like cabins, mess, galley, recreation rooms etcetera. Control rooms, offices, cane cabins, rackrooms and other technical spaces are also found in both environments. Therefore, much of the information found on this website applies to ships and topsides as well.

However, concerning Human Factors topsides have a slightly different focus:

  • The control room is usually the centre of the platform, typically combining multiple functions like process supervision, command centre, helicopter traffic control, radio room, logistic centre, office, meeting room and emergency room. This requires a specific design approach.
  • There is much more focus on safety, because of the intrinsic risks of oil and gas handling.
  • The topside design has to comply with specific offshore rules and regulations (for instance the NORSOK standards in the Norway area).
  • Lack of space is a common problem on the smaller topsides. This problem can be minimized by a clever combination of functions, and a ‘space emphasizing’ design.

Another interesting aspect of topsides is related to ‘remote supervision’.  It is possible to significantly reduce the amount of required manpower, by operating the platform from a onshore control room. Pilot projects at Total EP and GDF Suez revealed this development is also feasible for existing platforms.
The Human Factors focus in these projects lies usually on User Interface Design, by developing specific SCADA graphics and presentation standards for remote control.

For more information on topside Human Factors and remote supervision, contact ErgoS HFE.

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