Project cargo case studies: Oil & Gas

Oil & gas continues to drive project cargo activity throughout Europe.

Over 81 projects are in the pipeline, with many expected to begin in 2025. There are also many contemporary projects underway, not just in fresh projects, but also in decommissioning of completed operations too.

Project cargo and heavy lift specialists are subsequently expanding their contract portfolios with hydrocarbons-related developments. 

Here’s how three specialists are handling the unique challenges thrown up by moving oil & gas equipment and machinery across differing transport modes in Europe.

Oil & gas project cargo case studies

Barrus moves ammonia convertor from Romania to Uzbekistan

Europe is often a point of origin for oil & gas and petrochemical projects occurring in Central Asia. 

Southeast Europe makes an ideal staging point, due to its close proximity to the transport networks connected to Central Asia states. 

In this instance, Barrus Logistics used the Port of Constanta, Romania, to move 25 pieces of equipment, including a 423-ton ammonia converter, to a shale gas production site in Navoi.

However, Barrus had to take a multi-modular approach, incorporating road, sea, and inland waterways. 

Lengthy route analysis and a cross-Europe/Central Asia voyage for this mix of cargoes was the final conclusion. All told, the journey crossed incorporated sea and inland river transport. The inland waterway section covered a distance of 1,600km, in addition to road transportation. 

This was the heaviest cargo carried in Uzbekistan to date.

Because of the length of the route, and the oversized nature of the cargo, which measured 9,350 cubic metres in volume, careful route surveying was needed. This covered:

• Bridge calculations and structural surveying for 103 bridges
• Civil works for infrastructure improvement, including construction of 2 bridges

Through analysis of the route, Barrus was able to accommodate the large, ungainly freight loads it was charged to carry. This is a key aspect of project cargo; identification of potential problems and solving them before they arrive is absolutely essential.

Barrus itself has become something of a leader in oil & gas project logistics in Eastern Europe, Russia and the CIS countries. It is currently serving as the main transporter for the Amur Gas Processing plant in Russia’s Far East, which itself is a major, multi-billion-dollar development.

ALE Heavy Lift leads on North Sea decommissioning

Despite recent discoveries, the North Sea’s oilfields are reaching the end of their lifespans. Decommissioning of platforms throughout the region has been ongoing for almost a decade now. For instance, the previously-abundant Brent Field started its decommissioning process in 2011.

ALE Heavy Lift has been intimately involved in decommissioning Brent rigs since 2017, after performing fit-out on the Brent Delta platform for project partner Able UK at its facility in Hartlepool, England. 

In June 2019, ALE was again commissioned to handle the entire load-in for the Brent Bravo topside at Able’s Hartlepool site. 

To do this, ALE and partners made use of Pioneering Spirit, currently the world’s largest construction vessel, for the maritime transport phase.

Operations took about a week. Initial positioning of Pioneering Spirit around Brent Bravo and first lifting of the topside took a total of four hours. Brent Bravo’s initial position stood on 140m tall concrete legs. ALE lifted the 25,000-ton structure as one piece.

After removal, Pioneering Spirit carried its ultra-heavy cargo to England’s north-eastern coast. Brent Bravo was then transferred onto the Iron Lady, a purpose built 57mx200m barge owned and run by Allseas, where it was towed to Able Seaton Port.

For load-in preparations, Iron Lady was moved quayside, to receive an ALE suite of skidding solutions. 

Here, ALE installed skidding equipment on the demolition pad at the port, plus several hinged link beams, extending the skid tracks from the barge to the quay in order to guarantee safe and stable load-in.

The topside was then taken over onto the skidding system by means of the internal hydraulic cylinders of the skid shoes. This system consisted of 12 500t skid shoes, 48 650t skid shoes, 12 800t skid shoes, 32 push-pull units and three hydraulic power units.

In total, the topside was skidded 105m over the course of six hours. Brent Bravo was then handed back to the client for dismantling and recycling.

deugro moves rig from Germany to Turkey

Between 2013 and 2016, exploratory work at the Thrace Basin Gas field in Turkey’s European side revealed high potential for project owners Valeura. The decision to start onshore drilling was given the green light in 2018.

Following succesful cargo movement of similar drilling equipment to Valeura oil & gas developments, deugro was contracted to move necessary components. 

In this instance, deugro was presented with a challenging schedule involving multiple points of origins for the oil rig components it was carrying.

deugro decided, because of project complications, decided to move the whole rig via road from Germany to the destination in Tekirdag, Turkey.

The heaviest load weighed 57 tons, with the final assembled rig being 30ft tall, meaning it had to be split on several low-bed trucks for organisation. Deliveries were strictly sequenced, starting with the main rig substructure, followed by ancillaries and additional equipment.

deugro also split the delivery between its German HQ and its Turkish branch to continue smooth transition once cargo crossed the Turkish border. As Turkey is not an EU member, its rules, customs and transport regulations differ to those in the bloc. Deugro thusly handled the documentation aspect of this load to ensure a smooth transition.

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Cover image: © Andy Clark via Flickr