Aluminium revolution in the Middle East
By Alexandra Popescu and Claudette Remeijsen
Marketing & Communications at Bayards Aluminium Constructies B.V.
Everyone knows helidecks are an engineering challenge to start with. So one can only imagine the immense challenge of replacing 179 decks. This was the case for the timber decks used on the ADNOC (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company) platforms in the Persian Gulf. Since the old helidecks were decayed and rusty – and therefore a safety hazard – they had to be replaced by new decks. On top of that, the platforms needed to be kept in operation while installing the new helidecks.
Aluminium turned out to be the perfect solution for this project’s challenges, as it is lightweight, maintenance-free and thus cost-effective. Having to install one helideck per week and still meeting the highest quality and safety standards, the pressure was on. Fortunately, because of the fast assembly process, valuable time was saved. Also, the lightweight properties of aluminium compared to steel contributed to saving time and thus costs in the process. That is, no extra resources were necessary to strengthen the existing support structures. As a result, no heavy lifting equipment had to be employed, which reduced the costs significantly.
In just 20 weeks, the conceptual design of the helidecks was finalized, which was one of the challenges for the engineers on this project. Because it concerned an offshore project, welding was not an option. To avoid welding, a clever new assembly system was designed which is completely bolted. This system allowed for the helidecks to be installed easy and fast with no need of special labour force. The aluminium, including the extruded profiles used in this system, comes from the Middle East. This ensures a significant amount of local content, but above all, cost and time effectiveness. By sharing both knowledge and experience, a constructive long-term partnership with ADNOC was realized.
Today, already over 100 helidecks have been installed for ADNOC. Installing a helideck takes approximately 8-10 days and – thanks to the innovative assembly system – it doesn’t involve any cranes. Instead, small, supervised teams of technicians carry out the on-sight installation. The newly installed platforms are not only cost-effective in the short term because of the easy installation, but also in the long term. That is, the platforms will be free of maintenance for the next 40 years, since they are corrosion resistant and don’t need any painting or repainting. ADNOC expects these platforms to successfully produce oil for the next 30 years. And with the helidecks’ life expectancy of 40 years, that’s no problem: exactly the reason why aluminium is the perfect solution for offshore challenges.
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