Norway: AX-S System Onboard Havyard Designed Vessel ‘Havila Phoenix’
There are great things happening aboard the vessel “Havila Phoenix” nowadays. During the last two years there have been installations and tests of a whole new system likely to revolutionise the offshore light well intervention market. The vessel, a Havyard 858 design, is designed and constructed by the ship technology group, Havyard Group AS, and owned by Havila Shipping, both located in Fosnavåg at the west coast of Norway.
The offshore construction vessel was delivered from Havyard Ship Technology in Leirvik, Norway in 2009.
The vessel has over the last year-and-a-half been working on a contract for Fugro-Salt Subsea, part of the massive Fugro group, which is a Dutch-based corporation with more than 14.000 employees spread across 60 countries. Fugro-Salt Subsea cooperates with Expro in terms of developing the new “AX-S”-system aboard Havila`s advanced construction vessel.
So far the development of this new system has been running for seven years and cost NOK 1.2 billion in research and investments in ground-breaking new technology. The breakthrough appeared around a month ago when tests in the Norwegian Onarheim fjord proved very successful.
“AX-S” is a brand new system for well intervention involving remote-controlled subsea tools. The new system is, according to both the Havila management and the management of Fugro-Salt Subsea, a revolutionary system using solutions so far never utilised in subsea operations from a construction vessel. This involves employing extremely advanced remote-controlled subsea tools during well intervention that can handle up to eight different tools within the same operation, as well as using a light fibre rope instead of heavy steel wires. These are the main elements of the recent innovation. Should the system also win approval in a business sense, it could have a major impact on the offshore light well intervention market.
STABLE HAVYARD VESSEL
In the last year-and-a-half the 110 metre long vessel, a ship now docked in the port of Montrose between Dundee and Aberdeen, Scotland, has looked more like a research station than an offshore vessel. Havila Phoenix has been outfitted with a 35 metre tall tower and several modules on deck with a combined weight of over 500 tonnes. And there is no coincidence that the Scottish group has chosen a Havyard 858 design for this unique project.
“We needed a big, solid and modern vessel, and Havila Phoenix has lived up to all our expectations. If we fully succeed with this project we will likely be looking to acquire vessels of a similar design, but we will then need to be part of the planning straight from the start and get more of the system directly integrated below deck,” says Operation Manager Darren Bown of AX-S.
The captain of Havila Phoenix, Leif Magne Lynge from Gursken, Norway, confirms that the vessel still remains impressively stable despite the enormous added weight.
“Yes, things have been working really well and the vessel also performs really well for its purpose. Facilities are also excellent,” says Lynge who`s been captain aboard the vessel since the initial delivery. Captain and crew are definitely looking forward to heading out to the North Sea in order to start using this exciting new system.
UNIQUE REMOTE-CONTROLLED TOOLS
Michael Earlam of Fugro-Salt Subsea informs that there are several factors making the AX-S system a world sensation. In addition to the utilization of fibre ropes instead of wires for AX-S deployment, Earlam emphasizes the remote-controlled handling and deployment of the subsea packages with the ability to deploy 8 subsea tools is each time is unique.
“By using traditional well intervention equipment you can only perform one task at a time before the equipment needs to be raised to the surface in order to swap tools and then perform a subsequent operation. The equipment used in the AX-S system manages to handle eight various tools while on the seabed, without having to be raised to the surface to swap over any tools. This makes the operation much more effective and cost-efficient,” Michael Earlam informs.
And after seven years of preparation the system is nearing its baptism of fire. In September, Havila Phoenix with 500 tonnes of “subsea factory” on deck will be heading out to work in the British sector of the North Sea.
“Yes, following the successful commissioning of the AX-S system on NUTEC’s “cold well” in Onharheimsfjord, south of Bergen, during April and May be performing operations in the North Sea, the Operations Manager for AX-S,” Darren Bown of Expro, confirms.
Rope instead of wire
Operations Manager Darren Bown of AX-S confirms that the use of fibre ropes in the subsea offshore industry is still relatively new when compared with the use of steel wire ropes.
“We are utilising a fibre rope with three umbilical, which are coiled around the fibre rope to provide power and communication to the subsea equipment. The fibre rope and the cables weigh only a minimum compared to the weight of the steel wires that had a net weight on its own of up to 100 tonnes during similar subsea operations. The fibre rope is virtually weightless after it breaks the surface and enters the ocean. The rope and associated deployment tower is approved for ascending and descending equipment of up to 85 tonnes in depths up to 3.000m,” Operations Manager Darren Bown informs.
Subsea Manager Håkon Kopperstad of Havila Shipping, adds that there is especially one favourable factor with this new system; operations will be much safer compared to what they used to be.
“By utilising this new equipment we are avoiding exposure to hydrocarbons emerging onto the surface and also avoiding exposing crew and vessel to the dangers of explosions. In addition, the system is fully automatic and is in operation without the need for any of the crew to be on deck. These two factors help minimizing risk and we don`t have to use resources on safety measures in this context,” says Kopperstad.
HAVYARD 858 ’Havila Phoenix’
- Length: 110 m
- Breadth: 23 m,
- Speed: 17 knots
- Deadweight: 6,250 tonnes,
- Fitted out for a crew of 140
Source: Havyard, June 11, 2012