More than breaking the ice
In the winter period temperatures of -35°C in the Caspian Sea are far from unique.
In fact, in the northern parts of this sea the average water depths of 3.5 metres are often completely frozen. In extremely cold winters the ice thickness can reach up to 80cm, and ice ridges of 10m in height, originated from piled up drifting ice, are quite common.
To protect drilling islands from this drifting ice, ice protection structures are sunk in strategic places around drilling locations and increased in weight with ballast. By spraying ice on these barriers, the strength is increased. The ice will drift against these barriers, pile up and break into pieces.
By doing this, a natural barrier is created at a safe distance from the drilling location, and a safe passage is created between the drilling location and the built up barrier, providing easy approach to the location. Thanks to these ice protection structures, during the winter drilling operations of the largest discovered oil field in the last 35 years can continue despite the cold conditions.
An expert in the installation of these structures is Wagenborg Kazakhstan, a division of Wagenborg Offshore that was established in 1998, with the inauguration of two ice breaking supply vessels in the Caspian. Offering a wide range of services to the offshore oil and gas industry, the company’s capabilities also encompass transportation of bulk/deck cargo, fuel and water to drilling locations, onshore and offshore moving, assembling and dismantling of drilling rigs, towing services, and pile driving of conductor pipes and foundations, to name just a few.
In all these areas, a combination of shallow water in the northern part of the Caspian Sea and extreme ice conditions in the winter period requires an innovative approach to operations. With more than 100 years of ice navigation experience in the Baltic and Scandinavian waters, the Royal Wagenborg Group has accumulated the perfect skills.
Wagenborg Kazakhstan’s fleet of ships – containing three ice-breakers, six tugs, ten flattop barges and three ice classed barges – plays a crucial role in the company’s success. This fleet is particularly important to Wagenborg’s ice management services where the company ensures safe access to drilling locations. Together with Russian Joint Venture partner Femco, a further five robust anchor handling supply vessels (AHTS) complement the Wagenborg Offshore fleet.
The ice-breaking supply vessels (IBSVs), Arcticaborg and Antarcticaborg, are specially designed for operation in the Caspian Sea. While conventional ice-breakers find it impossible to navigate in this area, the IBSV’s are able to remove not only ice but also ice ridges from the drilling locations. Another part of the ice management is to influence the formation of such ice ridges at a safe distance from the drilling locations, creating a natural barrier against further ice movements.
The IBSV Arcticaborg and her sister vessel Antarcticaborg were built at Kvaerner Masa-Yards, Helsinki, Finland and delivered in 1998. Both vessels sail under the Kazakhstan flag in the Caspian Sea. They carry dry bulk cargo, fresh water, fuel oil, and liquid mud. The vessels are equipped with electric azimuthing azipod units, making them suitable for ice management and navigation in waters covered with ice up to 90cm and in shallow waters with a depth of three metres.
The Arcticaborg and Antarcticaborg are equipped with the latest technology and comply with the highest standards regarding to HSE&Q. The vessels meet the requirements of BureauVeritas and the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping. Solid design and sophisticated technology make it possible to use the vessels for various purposes, such as carrying out hydrographic services.
The field of management services is another interesting area for Wagenborg Offshore. Here, the company provides management for two accommodation units (living quarter barges) in the Caspian Sea.
The drilling locations in the northern part of the sea are artificial islands, made from sand and stone and protected by a sheet piling construction. On these islands drill towers with complementary equipment are placed. Due to the temporary character of the drilling operations there is no permanent accommodation for the personnel.
Living quarter barges, placed by the island on a previously prepared levelled site, solve the accommodation problem. This unit is connected to the drilling location by means of a footbridge, and one living quarter barge provides lodging and care for 120 persons.
In addition to the wide range of services that the core Wagenborg Offshore business can offer, its subsidiaries, Wagenborg Foxdrill and Wagenborg Kazakstan, can provide a variety of other solutions.
Wagenborg Foxdrill carries out work all over the world both on- and offshore under the most extreme conditions. Besides the assembly and erection of derrick structures (including drilling and pipe handling equipment) and moving rigs (dismantling, transport and assembly), market leader Wagenborg Foxdrill offers a wide range of services such as installing, pile driving of conductor pipes alternative hoisting systems, derrick inspections & modifications and rope access activities. With land rigmoves from the deserts in Algeria to the tundra’s in Siberia, Wagenborg Foxdrill proves to be a reliable partner for the oil and gas industry. Most of the activities are based on long-term relationships with her customers.
Across all these areas of the business, Wagenborg insists on the highest HSEQ performance. To this end the company holds all the necessary accreditation for quality (ISO 9001), safety (OHSAS 18001), and the environment (ISO 14001). This certification is supported by a highly skilled and dedicated workforce, mostly in-house trained, which will help to ensure a strong and prosperous future for Wagenborg Offshore.
Wagenborg Offshore B.V.
Services IPS installation