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Sparrows Group awarded contract for two 500-tonne under-rollers

05th January 2016

Sparrows Group, and its cable and pipe-lay solutions (CPLS) division, reinforced its international footprint in the United States after being awarded a contract by Oceaneering International to design and manufacture two 500-tonne powered and jack-able under-rollers.

Sparrows Group's cable and pipe-lay solutions
Sparrows Group's cable and pipe-lay solutions

The new under-roller system, through its versatility and mobility, offers a wide range of benefits. Suitable for use with reels of up to 11.4m outer diameter, it provides up to 10 tonnes of line pull at the outer reel diameter which is particularly beneficial for steel-tubed umbilicals - a more rigid product that requires greater effort to spool around the reel.

Key to Sparrows Group securing the contract is the company’s in-house engineering expertise and facilities in Aberdeen where the under-rollers are to be designed and manufactured before undergoing testing. The under-rollers will then be delivered to Oceaneering in Panama City where Sparrows Group will perform the assembly and site acceptance testing.

Local after-care support for the under-rollers will be supplied by Sparrows Group’s service centre in Slidell, Louisiana, where the company has a number of specialist technicians with the capability to maintain and repair this type of equipment. 

Sparrows Group chief executive officer, Stewart Mitchell, said: “This contract award marks a significant milestone for Sparrows Group in that not only are the under-rollers believed to be the first of the design and capacity in the marketplace but it underlines the added value we bring through our integrated services, responsiveness and after-care support.”

The complete under-roller unit, when attached to a set of cradles, can be lifted via four lifting points. With packing structures for differing reel diameters the system can be used for differing reel cradles. This enables the unit to be versatile in terms of the reel dimensions it can be used with. 

Both the drive and idler units can be individually moved to the location of the reel and cradles. The units can then be fastened to the cradles and with the use of hydraulic cylinders, the idler wheels can push against and under the reel - effectively lifting the reel off of the cradle which allows the drive wheel to rotate the reel to spool or un-spool the product. Once the spooling operation is complete, the idler wheel can retract to lower the reel back onto the cradles which means that the drive and idler wheel units can be unbolted and moved to another reel and cradle on site for further operation.

Mitchell said: "The under-roller design results in a more time and cost-effective system which improves the efficiency of operations. Further, the flexibility in design enables the user to reduce the number of heavy lifting operations on site by moving the under-roller to the reel instead of moving the reel to the location of and onto the under-roller. This maximises production time and spooling operations if the reels are located at favourable locations for spooling activities prior to undertaking operations.

“The wheel drive and idler units can also be transported by forklift pockets built into the wheel unit frames - from either the side or the end of the unit - to allow forklifts to position the wheel units in more confined spaces at the client’s facility as well as for speed of relocation without the use of a crane.”

Each of the two 500-tonne under-roller systems include two drive carriages, two idler/lift carriages and two spreader beams, one hydraulic power unit and one remote control unit as well as one lifting sling set and a set of interconnecting 15 metre deck hoses.

Established originally in 1946, the Sparrows Group moved into the oil and gas market in 1975 and celebrates 40 years working offshore this year. They are one of the most well-known and trusted names in the oil and gas industry. The company provides engineered products and services, primarily to the offshore sector, specialising in lifting and handling, cable and pipe lay, and fluid power solutions. 

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