Ultra-deep water port: feasibility study

Report compiled by Ernst & Young following their feasibility study looking at the most cost effective locations for an ultra-deep water port in the UK.

Appendix E: Analysis of new lifting vessels

Appendix E provides a review of publicly available information on new vessels entering the market. The vessels considered as part of this report are:

  • Amazing Grace (Allseas);
  • Twin Marine Lifter (Shandong Twin Marine);
  • Sleipner (Heerema); and
  • Serooskerke, Walcheren and Zeelandia (O.O.S International).

Amazing Grace (Allseas)

Allseas' is planning to build a sister vessel for the existing Pioneering Spirit: the Amazing Grace. Reuter's reported new vessel is expected to be significantly larger than its sister vessel with a reported length/width of 400m/160m compared to 382m/124m on the Pioneering Spirit. The Amazing Grace is expected to have a lift capacity of 72,000 tonnes allowing it to manage the largest structures in the North Sea[27].

The Amazing Grace is still at concept phase with no clear timetable for introduction to market. The Reuter's report from February 2018 highlighted that the Allseas' chief executive officer had stated that an investment decision could come in three years.

Construction on the Pioneering Spirit took place over 2011 to 2014 in DSME shipyard in South Korea. It then transferred to Rotterdam for installation, commissioning and testing of the topsides lift system. It departed the shipyard in early August 2016 to perform testing before performing the first single-lift decommissioning project - the Yme platform in Norway - later that month. Given the expected size of the Amazing Grace and its likely high day rate, it is expected to target the largest decommissioning projects in the North Sea and possibly elsewhere around the world.

Assuming an investment decision is made in three years (early 2021) and a similar construction, installation, commissioning and testing timeframe to the Pioneering Spirit (five years), the Amazing Grace could be operating in the decommissioning market by 2026. However, given the uncertainty on timescales it is possible that the Amazing Grace could enter the market before this point, after it or potentially not at all.

Twin Marine Lifter (Shandong Twin Marine)

In performing topside removals, the Twin Marine Lifter (TML) concept involves two DP3 semi-submersible vessels which set-up on either side the installation and use multiple heavy duty cranes to remove the platform in one lift. The TML would have a maximum lifting capacity of 34,000 tonnes[28].

Shandong Twin Marine (STM), a joint venture (JV) between Twin Marine Heavylift AS and Shandong Shipping Corporation, is the owner of the TML concept. When the JV was formed, it outlined plans to offer operators a fixed price for decommissioning work which would be underwritten by insurers. STM expected this would be an attractive offer for operators concerned about the cost uncertainty of the decommissioning process[29].

STM originally announced that the TML construction would commence in 2014 for a 2017 delivery. However, this has been delayed. In November 2016, Shandong Twin Marine placed an order with shipbuilder CIMC Raffles for the design and construction of three semi-submersible vessels. Two will be used for platform decommissioning as described above, and the other for transporting other parts from the decommissioning process. It is expected that the TML would be a potential candidate for performing decommissioning projects on topsides below 34,000 tonnes.

No press announcements have provided an update on this project and an expected delivery date. Given the uncertainty in the market it is not possible to forecast when the vessel will enter the market or whether it will be constructed at all.

Sleipner (Heerema)

Heerema Marine Contractors are currently developing Sleipner: a semi-submersible crane vessel. It will be equipped with two cranes of 10,000 metric tonnes lifting capacity each. Its reinforced deck area 220m long by 102m wide will make it the largest crane vessel in the world[30].

Sleipner is intended to install and remove substructures and top sides as well as for the installation of foundations, moorings and other structures in deep water. An interview with the Sleipner Project Director recently outlined its capabilities

"The size of the vessel's deck allows the crane, operating in revolving mode, to pick up single or multiple modules from the platform location; put these on the deck; then take the jacket in the cranes and sail to the disposal yard in a single trip"[31].

The vessel development is progressing in line with schedule and is expected for delivery in early 2019. In 2017, Sleipner won three contracts[32]:

  • Transportation and installation services associated with the Leviathan Production Platform in the Mediterranean Sea, from Noble Energy Mediterranean Ltd;
  • Transportation and installation services for the new production and living quarters as part of the Tyra Future project, from Mearsk Oil; and
  • Offshore lifting services in the Tyra East and West complexes related to the replacement of the wellhead and riser platforms.

The introduction of the Sleipner vessel will increased the supply of HLVs from 2 to 3. This could increase competition in the market, potentially lowering day rates and increasing the reverse engineering competitiveness with single lift options.

Serooskerke, Walcheren and Zeelandia (O.O.S International).

O.O.S International currently have two semi-submersible heavy lift crane vessels under construction, the OOS Serooskerke and the OOS Walcheren. The identical vessels are multi-purpose, heavy lifting vessels which can perform decommissioning work, windmill installations, offshore accommodation as well as modular plug and abandonment. The vessels feature a hotel capacity which can accommodate 750 people, two heavy lift Huisman cranes with a total tandem lift capacity of 4,400t with subsea lifting and active compensation capability.

Both vessels are currently under construction in China and are due for delivery in mid-2019 (Serooskerke) and early 2020 (Walcheren).

OOS International has also signed a MOU for the design and construction of another UHLV, the OOS Zeelandia, which it outlines will be the biggest in the world if constructed. Initial plans outline that the vessel will have two cranes, each with a 12,000 tonne lifting capacity and a transit speed of 15.4 knots.[33]


Email: Claire Stanley

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