International contractor Van Oord is in the final stages of commissioning its first shallow-water pipelay vessel, Stingray, at the COSCO shipyard in Nantong, China. Meg Chesshyre spoke with Maurice de Kok, Van Oord Offshore’s area manager for offshore pipeline installation, to find out what the new vessel will bring to the company.
“Our strategy is to both reinforce our existing position as an EPC contractor and expand our activities in the shallow water oil and gas market” says de Kok. “Van Oord has been active in this market for several decades, but with more focus on seabed intervention works such as trenching and backfilling for pipeline shore approaches. Complementary to this, we have built up a worldwide track record in the installation of pipelines using barge mounted, high-capacity winches to pull prefabricated sections from the shore, this known as the “on-bottom pull” method. The problem is that there isn’t always a suitable area available at the shoreline within which to prefabricate the pipeline sections, or, where there is, you are often not allowed to undertake the critical welding operations because of safety and environmental restrictions. Stingray will allow us to further complement our existing service package with a new in-house capability for the laying of subsea pipelines.”
Stingray is equipped with state-of-the-art machinery to install pipelines from 6-in. to 60-in. diameter, and its primary focus will be the undertaking of S-lay pipe-lay works. Ideally, these will be in combination with shore approaches constructions and other shallow water activities that Van Oord can undertake with its fleet.
“Stingray allows us to offer a package that we believe to be unprecedented in the offshore construction industry” says de Kok. “We aim to provide our clients with total in-house capability in shallow water oil and gas developments, with Van Oord offering integrated marine solutions from the shoreline to water depths of around 100m.” Complementary activities will include the construction of landfalls, rock installation, trenching and backfilling and the installation of single point mooring systems and gravity based structures. The absence of contractor interfaces that have previously been common in these types of project will save time and money and, most importantly, reduce risk.
In addition to pipe laying in shallow water, the integral 500 tonne capacity crane and large area of free deck space make the vessel suitable for a wide range of related offshore activities such as buoy and manifold installations, hook-ups, commissioning, piling and midline tie-ins.
“Stingray will also offer added value for our activities in the SPM installation market, where EPC contracts for the entire offshore facility are commonplace. This fits very well with our ambition to be an EPC contractor seen as offering integrated solutions to our clients. If we are involved at an early stage of such projects, we can optimize the engineering to provide more practical and economic solutions.”
The barge was built at Jingjiang Nanyang Shipyard (owned by POET Singapore) in China and acquired by Van Oord when nearly complete in July 2011. Official hand over took place in mid February 2012. Since then, Van Oord has focused on upgrading the barge to enhance its capabilities, including the design, construction and installation of the stinger, installation of firing line facilities, and upgrading the accommodation.
Further enhancement of the barge will be considered as need demands. “If required, we can increase the crane size, as the pedestal has been designed to support one of 2000 tonnes capacity” explains de Kok. “However, with the current 500-tonne crane, we have sufficient capacity for the majority of offshore operations.”
There is accommodation for up to 300, but, depending on the complexity of the project, Van Oord intends to operate thevessel with 120-150 people on board.Stingray is 40m wide, has ample deck space, and is capable of storing a lot of equipment and line pipe. This means fewer transfers and lifting operations offshore, minimizing the associated safety risk.
The vesselis currently in sea trials, including the test lay and retrieval of a 500m section of subsea pipeline. Upon completion, Stingray will be mobilized to its first assignment in Ulsan, South Korea to work with main contractor Daewoo on a project for its client, S-Oil. Van Oord’s scope includes installing a 3.2 km-long, 42-in. diameter subsea pipeline and associated SPM system. In line with their strategy of offering integrated solutions, Van Oord will also be responsible for the associated dredging scope; this including the excavation and subsequent backfilling of a trench for the subsea pipeline that will be installed by Stingray. The project is scheduled for April 2013.
De Kok is confident that the new vessel will be much in demand by operators active in shallow water oil and gas developments. “We are actively marketing the vessel to future clients” he notes. At the moment Van Oord is focusing on deploying the vessel in South East Asia, but he says prospects are good worldwide.
Asked if there were plans for further shallow pipelay vessels, de Kok replied: “We are looking into the market and are making preliminary plans to expand further, but let’s first make this one a success...We are looking forward to providing enhanced marine solutions for our clients with this new addition to the fleet.”
Van Oord is a Netherlands based, international contractor specializing in dredging, marine engineering and offshore projects (oil, gas and wind), for which it has a 100-year long track record. Turnover in 2011 was €1,715 million. It has 5,000 employees, more than 40 branch offices and 100 main vessels.
Van Oord Offshore is a separate business unit within Van Oord and provides total capability in EPC packages focused on the preparation, installation and protection of offshore oil and gas infrastructure.Its range of offshore capabilities includes subsea rock installation, pipeline shore approaches, shallow water pipeline installation, offshore trenching and backfilling and SPM system and GBS installations.