Sleipnir vessel - Heerema Marine Contractors

Heerema setting the scene for removal of platform from UK waters after 45 years

Dutch offshore contractor Heerema Marine Contractors has put the wheels in motion for the world’s largest crane vessel, Sleipnir, to remove an offshore platform from the waters off the UK after 45 years.

Sleipnir vessel; Source: Heerema Marine Contractors

As informed by Heerema Marine Contractors in a social media post on Wednesday, the time has come for the company to decommission the Dunlin Alpha platform on behalf of Fairfield Energy.

The platform was installed in 1977 and, after 45 years, it will now be recycled by more than 95 per cent.

According to Heerema, its other giant heavy lift vessel, Thialf, is working on hook-down and removal activities, alongside Heerema’s consortium partner, AF Offshore Decom. The company explained that this work is to prepare for the Sleipnir vessel to remove the module support frame with a single lift later this season without revealing a specific timeframe for the operation.

It is worth reminding that Heerema in March 2022 switched its two largest crane vessels, Sleipnir and Thialf, from using their engines to using shore power while docked in Rotterdam. Shore power enables vessels to switch off their engines and plug into the electrical grid for their energy supply.

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The contract for the removal and disposal of the Dunlin Alpha topside was announced in September 2018 and awarded to Heerema and AF Gruppen in December of the same year. The contract included engineering, preparation, removal & disposal (EPRD) of the Dunlin Alpha topside with a total tonnage of approx. 20,000 tonnes. At the time of the award, the platform was expected to be removed and disposed of in the period between 2021 – 2024.

Fairfield’s decommissioning plan for the Dunlin Alpha platform topsides located in the North Sea was approved by the UK authorities back in May 2019.

The Dunlin Alpha installation served as the production facility for the Greater Dunlin Area and is located in UK Continental Shelf Block 211/23a, approximately 137 km northeast of Shetland and 11 km from the UK/Norwegian median line.

Dunlin Alpha platform
Dunlin Alpha platform

It was installed in 1977 and two subsea tiebacks, Osprey and Merlin, were developed in 1991 and 1997 respectively. During its lifetime, over 522 million barrels of oil were produced from the Greater Dunlin Area. The production ceased in June 2015.

In related news, the Heerema-owned Sleipnir vessel has also recently been used for lifting and installation operations on the TotalEnergies-operated Tyra II project in the Danish North Sea.

The latest milestones for the Tyra redevelopment project included the successful offshore lift and installation of the three Tyra West wellhead and riser platforms (TW-WHRP), the utility- and living quarters (accommodation unit), and two bridges.

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Sleipnir has also recently secured a new gig in Australia. Under a new contract with Inpex, the vessel will transport the 4,800 metric ton Ichthys LNG Booster Compression Module (BCM) from Indonesia to Australia and install it on the Ichthys Explorer Central Processing Facility (CPF), located off the northwest coast of Western Australia, as part of the Ichthys LNG phase 2 development.