Pioneering Spirit vessel

Giant vessel removes Morecambe Bay topsides in less than 90 minutes

The Allseas-owned giant heavy lift vessel Pioneering Spirit has executed the single-lift removal of the former DP3 gas production topsides from Spirit Energy’s Morecambe Bay development in the East Irish Sea.

Pioneering Spirit vessel; Source: Allseas
Pioneering Spirit vessel - Allseas
Pioneering Spirit vessel; Source: Allseas

This follows the removal of the adjacent DP4 topsides and subsequent transport to the UK in April, Allseas said in a statement late on Wednesday.

To remind, Allseas was awarded a contract to remove the DP3 and DP4 platforms from Morecambe Bay for Spirit Energy back in early January 2021.

The infrastructure used to produce gas as part of Spirit Energy’s complex of eight installations in Morecambe Bay. As the field has matured, the reserves the platforms previously tapped into have been produced by the larger, manned Central Morecambe platform nearby.

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Meanwhile, the vessel was equipped with a second unique lift system capable of removing and installing complete offshore jackets weighing up to 20,000 t in one go.

According to its owner, the vessel’s motion-compensated lift technology proved hugely effective in the shallow waters of Morecambe Bay, renowned for strong currents and challenging tidal conditions. For both the DP3 and DP4 operations, it was a matter of hours between arrival in the field and safe execution of the topsides’ lifts.

Allseas said that the vessel needed less than 90 minutes to connect to and lift the topsides clean off its supporting jacket.

Pioneering Spirit will deliver the 5450-tonne DP3 installation to a new disposal and recycling facility at the Fife Energy Park, Scotland, where it will be reunited with the 5400-tonne DP4 structure next week.

Allseas’ scope covers engineering, preparation, removal and disposal of two 11,000 tonne normally unmanned installations (NUMIs) and 1000 tonnes of connected subsea infrastructure. The latter, including wellheads, pipelines and umbilicals, was removed by Allseas’ construction support vessel Oceanic in a complicated sequence of approximately 180 lifts.

Pioneering Spirit will return to Morecambe Bay to remove the DP3 and DP4 supporting jackets in 2023.

Source: Allseas

Operational since 2016, the DP3 and DP4 topsides removals for Spirit Energy is the vessel’s first heavy-lift assignment outside the North Sea. Pioneering Spirit has already installed and removed over 200,000 tonnes of platform weight.

Equipped with motion compensation technology and capable of lifting entire offshore structures up to 48,000 tonnes in just a few hours, Pioneering Spirit spends significantly less time in the field compared to conventional heavy lift barges.