SMIT Wins Heavy Lift Contract for Shell's Bonga Field

SMIT is providing extensive inshore lifting and installation services during the outfitting of Shell Nigeria's 300,000 dwt Bonga FPSO. The contract was awarded to SMIT Heavy Lift by AMEC, who is responsible for the engineering, procurement and construction of the FPSO topsides.

Beginning late January, SMIT will perform a series of lifts at AMEC's Wallsend facility on the River Tyne, UK. This project will require SMIT's large floating sheerlegs, Asian Hercules II. This 3,200 tonnes lift capacity sheerlegs will lift 17 process modules from delivery barges or the quay, transport them to the FPSO and position them on deck supports.

Asian Hercules II, rigged with a 35 m fly-jib, will use dedicated lifting frames and spreader beams during the lift operations. The work is programmed for a five week period. The modules are : power generation, LACT, port subsea, port process, water flood, starboard subsea, starboard process, flare scrubber, gas sales metering, vapour recovery unit, port field gas compressor, mid field gas compressor, starboard field gas compressor, the compressor control building, lay-down module, flare boom, main pipe rack and pedestal cranes.

The heaviest lifts are the power generation and starboard process modules at about 2,600 tonnes each. Five of the modules also have large dimensions and weigh between 1,600 tonnes and 2,300 tonnes. To lift the seven big modules, SMIT has to use a special lifting frame. In addition, the main pipe rack - weighing some 370 tonnes - consists of at least seven modules, each requiring an individual lift. Besides the various process modules, SMIT will also install a 440 tonnes flare boom with a length of 90 meters, which will give the Bonga a sailing height of approximately 90 meter.

For each lift, Asian Hercules II will sail to the lift location and moor. The rigging will then be connected to the module's lifting points and the sheerlegs will slowly increase hook loads incrementally until the load lifts free from the supports. The module will be elevated and transported to the FPSO. Four azimuth thrusters enable Asian Hercules II to manoeuvre accurately into position for each lift and installation. The sheerlegs will then lower the module until it is placed within the positioning guides on the FPSO deck. The module will be lowered fully into position following inspection.

The lifting schedule will be influenced by the limited maneuvering area and tides. These factors will have a particular bearing on the heaviest lifts.

The Bonga FPSO hull was built by Samsung, South Korea. It has a length of 305 m and a beam of 58 m. The hull was towed to the UK by the SmitWijs-operated Global Towing Alliance tug pool. Three tugs - SmitWijs Singapore, the John Ross and the De Da - were mobilised for the tow. On arrival at the River Tyne, SmitWijs moored Bonga FPSO at the AMEC quay.

The Bonga FPSO will be moored offshore Nigeria in the Bonga Field, 120 miles off the coast of the Niger Delta, in a water depth of 1,000 m. The FPSO will have storage capacity for up to two million barrels. Oil will be stored on board and exported via tankers, while gas will be piped to the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas plant at Bonny.

SMIT is highly experienced in large-scale FPSO projects. During 2000, Asian Hercules II assisted in the outfitting of Terra Nova, Canada's first FPSO. The sheerlegs performed 20 heavy lifts over a one-month period at the Bull Arm fabrication facility in Newfoundland. This is not the first time the Asian Hercules II has come to the River Tyne. In November 2000, Asian Hercules II installed the Gateshead Millenium Bridge and in April 2001, Asian Hercules II installed three modules for the Bleo Holm FPSO.

Rutger Kouwenhoven, SMIT Heavy Lift International Sales Manager, says: "The Asian Hercules II is an ideal solution for fast-track FPSO projects. The sheerlegs has superb maneuverability and can lift and transport modules with extreme weights and large dimensions in a single lift."