RAT catch for Mercon

Mercon Steel Structures in Gorinchem started work at the beginning of February on its first riser access tower (RAT) under a framework agreement signed with Shell UK and NAM last autumn. The 800t structure, due for delivery mid- August, is for NAM's K/15 field.

The framework agreement encompasses the call off of one and possibly up to nine RATs. The plan is to use these monopile platforms in combination with subsea trees and existing production platforms to develop Shell's and NAM's smaller gas fields in the UK and Dutch North Sea sectors. According to Luuk Wellens, Shell's head of projects for the southern North Sea, the rationale behind the so-called SWEEP project is not to develop each gas field individually, but to develop multiple small accumulations with a single RAT.

‘Moreover, by using one design repeatedly, these smaller fields can be exploited in an economically viable way,' he adds.

‘It will help us to unlock ever smaller gas fields.'

Mercon's managing director, Willem Griffioen, says he is particularly proud of the innovative RAT installation method they have developed in conjunction with ALE Heavylift. ‘This new installation method is considerably cheaper than more traditional methods,' he adds. ‘Meanwhile, we have applied for a patent on this smart way of installation. Besides the convenient installation, the tower can be decommissioned very easily as well and thus used again for new wells.'

Currently nearing completion at the Mercon yard is the G/16a-B satellite platform – comprising a 1250t topside and a 950t jacket including piles (580t) – for Dutch North Sea operator GDF Suez E&P Nederland. Platform G/16a-B, due for installation this summer, will be equipped with a water separation facility. Further treatment of the gas will take place on platform G/17d-AP, to which the new satellite will be connected by pipeline. OE

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