A Dutch yard that specialises in designing and building customised rather than off-the-shelf designs is providing six tugs that will play a key role in the expansion of the Tengiz oil field in Kazakhstan
In September 2017, Shipyard De Hoop in the Netherlands unveiled a contract for a total of four specially designed azimuth stern drive (ASD) tugs and a pair of slightly smaller shallow-draught harbour tugs for Caspian Offshore Constructions (COC).
The tug contract followed the award earlier this year of a three-year plus options contract to a consortium comprising Blue Water Shipping and COC for the design, construction and operation of six tugs to assist barges and vessels in the Caspian Sea to locations in Kazakhstan.
All six units, including the four ice-class 40-tonne bollard pull ASD units and two 30-tonne bollard pull harbour tugs, will be built at the Dutch shipyard and delivered to Kazakhstan in 2018. Construction is already underway. “This is a huge step forward for our organisation, securing a contract with a new major client and taking the total number of our own fleet to 25 vessels,” said COC general director Timur Sharapiev.
As part of the expansion of the Tengiz oil field in Kazakhstan, a 75 km cargo transportation route has been built, providing safe passage through the shallow waters of the Caspian Sea to offloading facilities at Prorva.
The purpose-built facilities at Prorva are the offloading point for specially designed and built modular carrying vessels (MCVs) and barges transporting modules for the expansion of the oil field. Due to the special requirements of operating in the cargo transportation channel and at the offloading facilities in Prorva, new tugs were required to assist the specially designed and built modular carriers and barges, hence the contract awarded to Blue Water Shipping and COC.
The ASD tugs will assist the modular carriers and barges as they navigate through the 75 km long channel. They will also provide support inside the offloading facility with other port-related services in order to ensure all cargo is delivered in a safe and efficient way. Blue Water Shipping is also involved in managing the MCVs, having been awarded a contract in partnership with Topaz Marine and Energy to supply a total of 17 specially designed MCVs, which will transport modules through the Russian river system to Prorva.
Speaking exclusively to OSJ in mid-November, De Hoop’s chief executive and president Patrick Janssens said a “clean sheet of paper” and customised tugs were required for the project because of the shallow water in the Caspian and because of the relatively high bollard pull that they would be required to have.
“The MCVs and barges carrying the modules will have very limited room to manoeuvre,” Mr Janssens explained. “They need the assistance of tugs with significant bollard pull, but that is difficult to achieve in shallow water. Usually, you would have large propellers to generate sufficient bollard pull, but in shallow water, that isn’t possible, hence our decision to opt for the ASDs.”
De Hoop discussed the best way to achieve the required specification for the tugs with COC a year or so before the Caspian company bid for the project and played a key role helping the consortium to win the contract. All six units are due to have been delivered by mid-2018.
De Hoop is well known for designing and building offshore support vessels. Not long ago, it completed a series of vessels for Esnaad in the Middle East. Orders for offshore vessels have been few and far between in the last two to three years, but Mr Janssens says he sees signs that the market has bottomed out and is confident that, when demand does pick up again, De Hoop’s ability to design and build project-specific vessels will mean that it is well placed for new orders.