FSRU Alexandroupolis; Courtesy of Gastrade

UK firm lands a hand to Saipem at European gas project

UK-headquartered engineering solutions player Maritime Developments Limited (MDL) has taken part in a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Europe, encompassing subsea scope of work related to the first floating storage regasification unit (FSRU) under the Greek flag, which will operate in the Aegean Sea off the coast of Greece.

FSRU Alexandroupolis; Courtesy of Gastrade

MDL explains that it has assisted Italy’s Saipem in progressing an LNG development offshore Greece, which consisted of an FSRU and a mooring and pipeline system, connecting the FSRU to the country’s National Natural Gas Transmission System (INGS).

Scott Stewart, MDL Project Manager, commented: “This has been a very interesting – and also challenging – project from start to finish, which makes it that much more rewarding to see it through to successful completion. Saipem needs no introduction and they own an impressive fleet of specialist assets to undertake a wide range of offshore operations. In this instance, they required MDL’s support, equipment and expertise with laying three products for the Gastrade project.

“With it being winter in the Mediterranean, we faced weather setbacks; but thanks to our modern technology and expert field service personnel, we were quick to respond to the changing conditions and progress with the installation as soon as it was safe to do so.”

To bring this gas project to life, two flexible risers, a dynamic control umbilical, and associated jewelry were installed with an MDL flex-lay spread, connecting into a pipeline end manifold (PLEM) from the FSRU. Afterward, subsea pipelines connected the PLEM back to the coastal valve station onshore.

According to the UK-based player, the equipment spread consisted of a horizontal lay system (HLS), enabled with a TTS-4/180 series tensioner and an MDL adjustable deck deflector, integrated with the equipment on board Island Offshore’s MV Island Victory deepwater installation vessel.

Moreover, the company underlines that the MDL HLS – sporting a wide work platform for safe personnel movements, large height clearance between the platform and the outboard chute, and a range of handling aids for convenient feeding of the buoyancy module halves into the firing line –  enabled the installation of 27 buoyancy modules.

In addition, the deployment of the MDL tensioner, with a longer track contact length and upgraded squeeze circuit compared to similar equipment on the spot market, helped ensure optimized product handling. MDL’s failsafe grip system feature provided further peace of mind regarding optimized handling and continued hold of the product, even in case of critical power loss on the vessel.

With all these features in mind, the UK firm claims their use extends the window of product diameters and coefficient of friction that the tensioner can safely handle while maintaining a secure grip and efficient deployment or retrieval. This is said to result in “the most capable and versatile single-unit systems on the flex-lay market,” in MDL’s view.

Stewart continued: “It has been a pleasure to work with Saipem and assist with the delivery of the Gastrade project – eventually providing natural gas to the Greek Transmission System and onwards to final consumers in Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, North Macedonia, Serbia, Moldova, Ukraine, Hungary and Slovakia.

“I’m pleased that we have been able to support Saipem with our engineering and back-deck expertise at the different stages of this project – on and offshore – and hope to be able to do so on another scope in the near future!”

While MDL did not specify the name of the Greek project, it is believed this is related to the Alexandroupolis LNG FSRU terminal project. After Saipem completed the pipelaying activity for Gastrade’s Alexandroupolis LNG terminal in August 2023, the European Commission, under EU State aid rules, greenlighted a €106 million Greek measure in October 2023 to support the completion of the construction of Gastrade’s DNV-classed liquefied natural gas terminal in Alexandroupolis.

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The FSRU Alexandroupolis was expected to be connected to the National Natural Gas Transmission System of Greece via a 28-kilometer-long pipeline developed by Corinth Pipeworks, a steel pipes segment of Cenergy Holdings. The commissioning cargo was delivered to the FSRU on February 18 onboard GasLog Hong Kong LNG carrier.

The Alexandroupolis, former 2010-built LNG carrier GasLog Chelsea, was converted to the FSRU at Seatrium shipyard in Singapore in 2023. Following the ten-month conversion, the unit sailed away from Singapore on November 26, 2023, and entered the waters of the Thracian Sea of Greece on December 7, 2023. Upon its arrival in Greece, the FSRU was anchored through a spread 12-point mooring system.

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Following testing activities, the terminal is slated to be commercially operational in the first quarter of 2024 with a maximum sustainable regasification capacity of 5.5 billion cubic meters a year.