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    IMCA celebrates 10th anniversary

    News // April 29, 2005
    The continued reduction in the lost time incident frequency experienced by member companies - and thus the number of injuries, is just one of many key milestones the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) can claim as it celebrates its tenthanniversary.Membership of the trade association has risen to nearly 270 companies from 30 countries and the Association's areas of influence have been considerably expanded with key guidelines, aimed primarily at achieving the "holy grail" of the offshore industry -zero- injuries, being adopted globally.Formed in April 1995 by the amalgamation of the International Association of Underwater Engineering Contractors (AODC - founded in 1972) and the Dynamic Positioning Vessel Owners Association (DPVOA - founded in 1990), IMCA started life with just a hundred members. While always an international organisation, its membership was substantially North Sea-based, but with a growing Middle East section."Despite much consolidation in the industry, our membership has continued to rise and now stands at nearly 270 companies in more than 30 countries," explains Chief Executive, Hugh Williams."Indeed more than 50 per cent of the membership is based outside Europe. The Middle East section has continued to expand and three other geographical sections have been created. The Asia-Pacific Section was founded in 1999; 2002 saw the founding of the Americas Deepwater Section to address the particular needs and concerns of companies operating in that region, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico; and the addition of the Europe & Africa Section in 2003 means that all members are now covered by a local section, active on the issues relevant to their region.""Seven companies serve on our Council, with Allseas, Cal Dive International, Heerema Marine Contractors, Saipem, Stolt Offshore, Subsea 7 and Technip committing to the highest category of membership, deeply involved in and supportive of the Association'swork. Over 120 of our other member companies are listed under our 'contractors' category; our 'supplier' members include supporting companies such as equipment manufacturers, consultancies, training establishments and personnel agencies. Reflecting theusefulness of the association's guidance and work and facilitating ever-better communication, 36 oil companies and regulatory bodies currently hold corresponding membership."IMCA is more active than ever before in the ever-important area of offshore safety. While safety statistics collected since 1997 show a drop in the IMCA member lost time incident frequency rate from 4.96 to 0.99 in 2003, there remains much to be done tomeet the zero-injury goal. An extensive catalogue of guidance1 and regular seminars and workshops2 are complemented by new ways of getting the message across, including pocket safety cards, DVDs and planned safety posters.IMCA also continues to address new topics where working through the association can benefit members. The association has been heavily involved in security topics and issues surrounding the development/implementation of the ISPS (International Ship & Port Facility Security) Code since 9/11. The latest examples of its pro-active approach are the new IMCA Contracting Principles3, which are raising awareness of contracting issues and provoking discussion between contractors and clients; and the work it isundertaking with the wider industry on development of guidelines on risk allocation."It is interesting to see some of the major milestones we have passed during the course of the last ten years," says Technical Director, Jane Bugler. "In 1999 we were particularly pleased to gain observer status at the International Maritime Organization (IMO). This has enabled us to put forward the extensive global experience and expertise of our members in specialist vessel operations during the development of new codes and guidelines and ensures our members are briefed on the latest developments which might affect them."IMCA's own work has been recognised by IMO, notably guidelines on The Training & Experience of Key DP Personnel and on the design and operation of dynamically positioned (DP) vessels."IMO leads a long list of organisations with which IMCA works, such as national and international regulators and other technical and trade associations where interests overlap, including ILO, DMAC, EDTC, IDSA, OGP, IADC, IAGC, OLF, OMHEC and authorities such as those in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Netherlands, Norway, UK and USA.In 1997, following a detailed review of the association's activities and goals, two core activities were formed, tackling issues affecting all members, complementing the existing division-based (Diving, Marine, Remote Systems & ROV) approach for technical issues. Safety & Legislation (now including 'environment' as SEL) changed from a division to a core activity, reflecting the relevance of such work to all members.The new core activity - Training, Certification & Personnel Competence (TCPC) - was to develop the IMCA framework for competence assurance and assessment (published in January 1999), through which contractors could demonstrate the competence of personnelworking in safety-critical positions to clients and regulators.In 1997, IMCA added its Offshore Survey Division, bringing in many companies formerly active in the now-defunct OSCA. Despite being IMCA's smallest technical division, the work programme has steadily increased, with guidance documents published and in preparation on an ever-widening range of subjects.The establishment of the Americas Deepwater Section, with enthusiastic participation from members in that region has helped to further enhance the international applicability of the extensive catalogue of IMCA guidelines. It also brought the launch of the IMCA members-only website, making a vast archive of over 900 documents available for downloading by members."And last, but by no means least, as we enter our second decade, we have settled in new larger offices in London to accommodate our growing team of experts on hand to work with members on pressing issues, opportunities and challenges facing the industry," said Williams.

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