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Unsung heroes of the oil and gas industry

27th August 2013

The development of new technology, equipment and vessels in the often overlooked offshore multipurpose, heavy lifting and project cargo sector is rendering a whole new range of oil and gas projects as both practical and economically viable

Unsung heroes of the oil and gas industry
Developments in the offshore multipurpose, heavy lifting and project cargo sector one of the main drivers behind this year’s breaking E&P prospects

According to the Barclays Global 2013 E&P Energy Spending Outlook, a record USD 644bn will go toward exploration and production activities over the course of 2013 in key areas such as Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico, West Africa and Australasia.


With global demand for oil on the rise, industry leaders have placed emphasis on developing major offshore assets and striking new discoveries. This significant uptake on E&P spending spurred by major projects, plans to drill new wells and the delivery of new offshore rigs is boosting other associated sectors such as seismic and geosciences, instrumentation and automation, as well as offshore multipurpose, heavy lifting and cargo transportation.


It is undeniable that development and growth in these sectors is not only a consequence of but also one of the main drivers behind the multi-record breaking E&P prospects which are arising this year. Technological advancements in these areas are allowing big players to look upon ever more challenging projects as both logistically possible and commercially viable, bringing an unprecedented level of cost-efficiency to the energy arena.


However, these contributions are often shied from the spotlight. One need only consider that the media’s focus following ANP’s announcement of the astounding volume of reserves lying dormant in Brazil’s Libra field was much more on what E&P companies could do with it rather than on the company and technology which made the resounding announcement possible in the first place – CGG, in this case.


This paper proposes to counter this trend and provide due relevance to these, as one might call them, unsung heroes of the oil and gas industry, as well as a looking glass into their technology and projects, range of applications and services.


In particular, our main focus will be on the project cargo and heavy lift sector, which is witnessing a boom in opportunities mainly in Southeast Asia– a major hub for offshore projects, driven by fields in Malaysia and Indonesia. This is in addition to offshore E&P markets in West Africa, the Middle East and the North Sea.


German carrier dives subsea deep into Australian LNG


Leading energy firms have embarked on projects – particularly in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) arena – in Western Australia. With more than half a dozen liquefied natural gas projects planned or under construction, experts claim that Australia can rival Qatar as an energy exporter.


The multipurpose and heavy lifting sector is of course crucial to these plans, as it can offer operators and contractors access to the building blocks required to put projects in place as well as global shipping services to maintain them.


A specialist in ocean cargo transportation of project and heavy lift cargoes, German-based BBC Chartering was recently involved in the ‘Macedon Gas Project’ in the Pilbara region offshore Western Australia, working as transport provider to McDermott's first subsea, umbilical, riser and flowlines (SURF) contract in the country.


BBC Chartering’s work scope included the transport engineering and ocean transportation for the delivery of a 77-kilometer-long subsea umbilical onboard a cable lay vessel from where it got installed in water depths measuring up to 180 meters. The company handled all relevant activities that resulted in the delivery of the assigned transport spread.


The BBC Nordland, a 107.75 m-length multipurpose tweendecker delivered the umbilical for the Macedon project. With a floor space on deck of 996 sq m, a cargo hold capacity of 10,401 cbm and two NMF cranes with 80 mt of capacity each, the vessel was a natural fit.


“The BBC Nordland was the most suitable vessel meeting this project’s specific requirements,” the company’s senior vice president of PR Raymond Fisch says.


The company’s fleet currently holds 150 multipurpose and heavy lift vessels which conduct transport assignments on tramp, affreightment or liner services. The fleet portfolio ranges from 3,500 to 37,300 dwat and features lifting capacities up to 800 mt, and the company claims its multipurpose heavy lift vessels comprise “one of the largest breakbulk fleets afloat”.


Offshore installation key to Norway’s EOR goals


Off in Norway, Statoil and its partner Petoro are applying subsea gas compression on the Gullfaks South field. The Gullfaks Subsea Compression Project is the second largest subsea gas compression project planned by the Norwegian major, as part of a broader strategy to improve recovery from this and other gas fields.


It is well known that Norway aims to achieve an average recovery rate of 60 per cent from its fields along the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS), a staggering mark and world record, considering that standard rates are usually placed at 30-35 per cent.


Seaway Heavy Lifting, an offshore contractor in the global oil and gas and renewables industries in June was awarded a heavy lift contract from Subsea 7 to work on the Gullfaks Subsea Compression Project. The company’s scope includes transport and installation (T&I) of a 500t Wet Gas Compression station and its 300t protection structure. The project will be executed in Q2 2015 and is located 15km south of the Gullfaks C platform.


Seaway Heavy Lifting offers tailored T&I and EPCI solutions globally for a variety of projects in challenging offshore environments, dealing with oil and gas T&I; platforms; deepwater structures and platform decommissioning; but also tenewables EPCI and T&I; substations and converter stations; foundations; wind turbine generators and cables.


The company owns and operates crane vessels Stanislav Yudin and Oleg Strashnov, which have a revolving lift capacity of 2,500mt and 5,000mt respectively. Both vessels are state of the art and certified to the highest standards. The Oleg Strashnov meets all DP3 requirements of the offshore industry. In addition to our vessels we own high quality support equipment, including rigging, hammers and a wide variety of pile handling tools, which enable us to work efficiently and make us reliable in delivering on our commitments.


“The crane vessel Oleg Strashnov is highly qualified for this job, making optimum use of large deck space to transport the compression station and the protection structure. Installation will be done using dynamic positioning (DP) in water depth of 140 m,” says Seaway Heavy Lifting CEO Jan Willem van der Graaf.


Refinery floats its way to Turkey


But the scope of this sector’s applications is not confined to one given part of the oil and gas value chain, be that offshore or even exploration and production, for that matter. It is also, of course, a key component for implementing downstream projects, with a very recent one worthy of note.


SAL Heavy Lift, a specialist in the sea transportation of heavy lift cargo in April got involved in a complex Turkish refinery project. SAL Heavy Lift was commissioned to transport several key components for its implementation from Korea and Japan to Turkey, using two vessels, the MV Lone and MV Regine.


The MV Lone of Type 183 loaded a product fractionator and four coke drums in Korea. The fractionator loaded in Ulsan with a length of 65 m weighed 585 mtons, while the coke drums loaded in Kobe had a total weight of 1,447 mtons with dimensions of 33 x 10 x 9 m each.


The MV Regine of Type 176, on the other hand, transported eight reactors from Japan and Korea to Turkey. Four units were loaded in Muroran, Japan, the heaviest being a cracking reactor of 917 mtons. Four more reactors were then loaded in Ulsan, Korea. All in all, the vessel carried a weight of 5,776 mtons. In Turkey, the MV Regine berthed at Derince port, where the entire consignment was discharged onto trailers / barge for the final transfer to the refinery.


SAL Heavy Lift’s fleet of 16 heavy-lift vessels provides sea transportation solutions for oil and gas components. The 20-knots and 2,000t SWL crane capacity vessels can operate as heavy-lift installation vessels (HLIV) and platform transportation vessels (PTVs).


The vessels are able to load a variety of oversized project cargos including pipe-lay towers, reels, buoys, drilling sections, jackets and modular structures. The new buildings are equipped with a dynamic positioning system, which gives the vessels the ability to perform complex offshore installations.


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