July 18, 2017

At the Zohr gas field in Egypt, BOURBON is assisting Saipem with pipelaying operations. Details provided by Sébastien Soldo, Operations Manager. 

Zohr is a giant gas field in very deep water, located in the Mediterranean Sea, 150 km off the coast of Egypt. In July 2016, operators ENI and Petrobel contracted with contracting company Saipem for drilling and pipelaying. That was when BOURBON came into play: “We were contacted in turn by Saipem for handling and positioning operations involving Castoro 6, a semi-submersible pipelayer, all along the gas wells supplying the drilling vessel,” explains Sébastien Soldo, Operations Manager.

The vessel assigned to this task is the Bourbon Argos, a powerful AHTS, specially designed for offshore rig towing and anchor handling. “In order to position the Castoro and its 12 anchors weighing from 20 to 25 tons each, sufficient traction capacity is required. Argos fits the bill, with its 136-ton bollard pull,” Sébastien Soldo says. Along with another vessel, the Bourbon Argos handles and moves anchors one by one, so that the Castoro can move forward and lay pipes on the seabed. A high-precision operation.



Prior to these operations, the Bourbon Argos was on PSV duty, transporting pipes from the Port of Damietta to Castoro 6, on the Zohr field. This was while waiting on the client’s green light to widen the back of the vessel: “We had the right bollard pull for the job, but not enough breadth to handle the very large anchors and buoys,” Sébastien Soldo points out. BOURBON therefore made a vessel modification proposal to Saipem. Ten days later, the vessel was modified at the Limassol shipyard in Cyprus: “The back of the vessel was widened by around 3m, to reach a total width of 7m.” At that point, the Bourbon Argos was fully operational.

As Sébastien Soldo reminds us, the assignment itself is a genuine challenge. “Handling these 12 anchors is continuous work with no downtime. This is why we have a double crew on board, with 2 captains, 2 bosuns, etc. Experienced seafarers.”



That’s what it takes to successfully carry out this high-risk operation. This is why the Clear Deck Policy, one of the BOURBON Safety Management System (SMS) procedure, was implemented in a very strict manner: “the policy requires seafarers to take up precise positions on the deck during loading/unloading operations, to prevent the risk of serious injury, in the event of a ruptured cable for example.”

“Thanks to our extensive experience with this type of operation, absolutely nothing is left to chance. An advantage that is particularly appreciated by our client Saipem, who benefits from our streamlined operating standards,” Sébastien Soldo concludes.