Making the irish sea connection

June 1, 2012

The newbuild DP3 ultra-deepwater multipurpose flex-lay subsea construction vessel Lewek Connector recently wrapped up her first working voyage in the Irish Sea, laying two power cables and a fibre optic cable for the final phase of EirGrid's East-West Interconnector project. Russell McCulley reports.

Measuring 156.9m in length and with a breadth of 32m, the Lewek Connector (ex AMC Connector) is hailed as ‘the world’s largest cable layer, in terms of physical size and payload capacity’, by the vessel’s Singapore- headquartered owner EMAS, which completed its acquisition of Aker Marine Contractors (AMC) from Aker Solutions in March 2011.

lewek

The vessel has a carousel capacity of 9000 tons – a 6000 ton capacity deck carousel and a below-deck unit that can load 3000 tons of cable - and when fully loaded can reach a top speed of 14 knots. ‘We can run the DP system at 100% while still retaining sufficient power to run the cable lay equipment,’ EMAS said in a fact sheet distributed near the end of the vessel’s maiden voyage. ‘We can load 9000 tons of cable, including deck equipment, including at least 200 tons of fiber optic cable, and with sufficient fuel and consumables to get us where we need to go.’

The vessel, rated for operations in 3000m-plus water depths, sports two heave- compensated offshore cranes, accommodations for 140 and two Schilling Robotics HD work class ROV systems. The 2100m2 deck includes a 65m x 32m flex space and an overall deck strength of 10t/m2.

EMAS took delivery of the Connector November 2011 from the STX OSV yard in Søvikness, Norway. The vessel’s first commercial operation, in March, was the successful completion of the first of several riser replacements for Statoil on the Norwegian continental shelf.

vessel in action

lewek connector

Following the EirGrid job, the Lewek Connector was to resume work on the Statoil riser replacement project, part of a pair of Statoil contracts worth up to NKr600 million announced in January. The vessel is scheduled to install 55km of power cables for the Gudrun field in the North Sea in 2H 2013 under a $41 million contract with Statoil.

The offshore portion of the East-West Interconnector, which will join the power grids of Ireland and Great Britain, is 100km. OE



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