(Seattle, Feb. 27, 2002) – Crowley’s Energy and Marine Services business unit has successfully moved the 312-foot square concrete island drilling structure Orlan from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to Sovietskaya Gavan in the Russian Far East for Sakhalin I Project operator, Exxon Neftegas Limited (ENL), a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil Corporation.
The Orlan (ex Glomar Beaufort Sea I) Concrete Island Drilling System (CIDS) was purchased from Global Marine Drilling Company and will be used for oil production as part of the Sakhalin 1 project, offshore Russia.
It was moved from its stack site near Northstar Island, off Prudhoe Bay using two Crowley Sea Victory class 7200 BHP twin screw oceangoing tugs with more than 110 tons bollard pull each. Arctic ice management was handled by Crowley with a third tug contracted for the job, the 23,200 BHP Arctic Kalvik. The certified Ice class Lloyds +100 A1 Arctic class 4 tug offered high bollard pull, ice-breaking ability and was well suited with tow gear for arctic and ocean towing.
“The Orlan has a 34-foot draft and consists of four basic components a steel mud base, a concrete brick caisson, and two steel deck barges on which the drilling rig, support equipment, and quarters are mounted,” said Craig Tornga, general manager, Alaska services. “We have extensive experience towing CIDS in Alaska, and have in place ISM and ISO certifications. Our comprehensive safety and environment protection plans are an integral part of every tow project we undertake. The value of this approach was demonstrated on this tow, which was completed on time and within budget, and without any safety incidents.”
Crowley has been towing barges, ships and drilling rigs in the North Pacific and Bering Sea since the 1950s, servicing the areas of the Aleutian Islands to Prudhoe Bay. The company has moved the Orlan a total of seven times without incident, including its move into the Arctic from Japan in 1984.
For the Orlan move Crowley and The Glosten Associates, Inc., developed a risk assessment and readiness review for a table top exercise prior to initiating the job; implemented a Health, Safety and Environmental (HSE) plan, and executed an HSE and Quality Assurance interface program to ensure that the sub-contracted tug was fully compliant with Crowley’s Environmental, Safety and Quality Assurance (ESQA) management system.
“It is a priority for Crowley to offer effective environmental, safety and quality management systems that meet the high performance standards of companies like ENL,” said Charlie Nalen, vice president, Environmental, Safety and Quality Assurance.
ENL contracted with The Glosten Associates, Inc., for overall management of the project and with Crowley Alaska, Inc. for the towing. Jim Macaulay, director of marine operations, was project manager for the operation, and Al Anderson, manager of international operations, was the tow master. The Crowley team and tugs arrived at Point Barrow in early August to commence the tow, with Crowley making daily flights in the area to monitor ice melt until suitable passage out of Alaska was possible August 31.
“We flew the ice for 25 days until we felt it had melted sufficiently to permit safe passage from Prudhoe Bay to Barrow,” Anderson said. “On Aug. 31, the Sea Victory and her sister tug the Sea Venture departed Prudhoe Bay with the Orlan in tow, and the ice breaker tug Arctic Kalvik working ahead to make way through the ice as needed.”
When the tow arrived off Barrow, Alaska, on Sept. 4, the Crowley team set up the Arctic Kalvik with the Sea Victory and Sea Venture for the ocean tow from Barrow to Russia. Because of the large size of the tow, the tugs were refueled along the way by a Russian tanker. A little over a month later, on Oct. 14, Crowley delivered the Orlan to Russia, cleared the structure through customs and began arrangements to put the Orlan down in the Sovetskaya Gavan harbor.
“Our team had to do some dredging at the new site in the harbor to make room for the Orlan, which is about 60 feet deep with its mudskirt,” Anderson said. “Then we were able to lower it to its new position on the bottom.
Energy and Marine Services is a business unit within Crowley Marine Services, a subsidiary of Oakland-based Crowley Maritime Corporation, and is part of the company’s Contract Services group. Crowley Maritime, founded in 1892, is primarily a family- and employee-owned company engaged in worldwide logistics, liner services, contract towing and transportation, energy support services, ship assist and escort services, vessel management and petroleum and chemical marine transport. Additional information about Crowley, its subsidiaries and business units may be found on the Internet at www.crowley.com.
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