With the seemingly indefinite slump in the North Sea oil and gas industry, it’s no surprise to see a number of companies grappling with the down market looking elsewhere to drum up business. Wind energy, aquaculture, and even oilfied tourism to name just a few.
For dutch shipbuilder and designer Damen, one sector of particular interest is oil and gas decommissioning. On Thursday, the group announced a new concept design it calls the Damen Decommissioning Series, a specialized vessel capable enough to decommission more than half of the fixed platforms located in the North Sea. Expanding its versatility, the vessel is designed to focus on three core areas decommissioning sector; topside decommissioning, offshore platform removal, and subsea cleaning and removal.
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For Damen, the decommissioning series started out as a project for an undergraduate intern, Justin Rietveld, who was tasked with investigating the potential niche markets for new vessel designs in the decommissioning sector.
“This research started off with the idea of developing a decommissioning vessel based on Damen’s existing portfolio,” informs Rietveld. “However, we soon found out that this market needs more.”
Perhaps the most notable feature of the new monohull vessel is its split stern, characteristic almost of Allseas’ giant Pioneering Spirit, the world’s largest and most talked about decommissioning vessel, only on a much smaller scale. Damen says that with a capacity of 1,600 tonnes, however, the vessel will cover a significant amount of the global fixed platforms, and over half of those located in the North Sea, according to Damen.
“The vessel’s monohull design has a split stern; a characteristic that will come into play during platform removal operations,” explains Rietveld. “This ship will be able to reverse up to a jacket, where it will be ballasted to sink below the platform. Upon deballasting, the vessel will rise up to pick up the platform.”
For maximum flexibility, the concept is designed to include modular add-ons, which Damen says will address the possibility that such a vessel will not be solely active in the decommissioning market, optimizing productivity for owners and bridging the potential gap between decommissioning contracts and other roles.
“These modular additions to the existing design include the (temporary) installation of a crane or a helideck,” Damen says of the concept design. “Functionality can be further boosted with the addition of accommodation modules to increase personnel capacity. Another option will be the addition of a temporary platform to create a solid stern. The subsequent increase in deck capacity could be used for transporting and installing monopiles and foundations for the offshore wind industry.”
Speaking about the results of the research, Damen Manager Design & Proposal Offshore & Transport Lucas Zaat comments: “We initiated this project because we felt that we can make a difference in this sector – and it has certainly generated some significant ideas. The decommissioning market is close to our current activities. We are therefore planning to continue with this project and assign specialised personnel to implement it.”
In addition to the vessel concept, Damen says it is looking at ways its other assets, such as pontoons also the state of the art Walk-2-Work vessel currently being built for Bibby Marine, could play a role in the decommissioning market.