1. Has the decommissioning sector seen an increase in the demand for Walk to Work solutions?
The decommissioning sector has certainly developed over the past few years and especially with regard to Walk to Work (W2W) solutions. Ampelmann has also seen an increase in the demand for its fully motion compensated gangway systems to enable the safe and efficient transfer of personnel, utilities and cargo during the decommissioning of offshore platforms. Over the past year, we have deployed some of our A- and E-type systems on vessels in the Southern North Sea in order to help prepare and remove offshore oil and gas platforms for decommissioning.
2. Where are you seeing the biggest demand for decommissioning projects?
The North Sea is by far our largest source of Decom campaigns. Last year, we worked together with Boskalis to help prepare an offshore platform for decommissioning. With the use of the Ampelmann A-type gangway system, the client was able to reach the multiple landing locations necessary to remove the platform in parts. The A-type also provided a safe escape route in the case of an emergency.
Next to the transfer of personnel, we have also seen an increased demand for transferring utilities and cargo. Fuel lines and heavy tools and equipment are among the most common examples.
More recently, a client requested our help in guiding an internal cutting tool into a jacket leg. With a small adjustment to the gangway tip, we made the system ready to stabilise the cutting tool for fast and safe lowering.
3. What safety and economic benefits do Walk to Work systems offer as opposed to traditional offshore access methods such as helicopters?
The Oil & Gas (O&G) industry is one where regular transfers from support vessels to offshore platforms is the norm. With companies becoming more and more aware of the need for increased safety and cost-efficiency, marine-based transfer solutions are more crucial than ever.
Active motion compensation gangway systems are among the safest and most comfortable means of accessing offshore structures, even in rough waters. Traditional methods, including swing ropes, baskets and ladders, not only require a physical effort on the part of offshore workers, but also pose health and safety risks. Helicopters, on the other hand, are expensive and often experience limited operational ability in bad weather.
Inspired by aerospace technology, Ampelmann’s systems are based on the principles of a flight simulator turned upside down, capable of measuring movements and compensating all six degrees of freedom of a moving vessel.
Ampelmann’s W2W solutions enable safe personnel and cargo transfers in sea states up to 4.5m significant wave height, bring ‘waiting on weather’ to a minimum and are tailor-made to fit various project-, vessel- and even climate requirements. To date, we have safely transferred more than 4.4 million people and over 8 million kg of cargo from vessels to fixed or floating platforms, and vice versa.
4. How do you co-operate with vessel owners in implementing Walk to Work solutions?
By performing a workability study that includes the vessel’s movement characteristics and location-specific wave data, we can accurately predict the workability during a project. Because we work closely together with the vessel owners, we know what the optimal landing location and vessel heading is.
A good line of communication ensures flexible and reliable cooperation between Ampelmann and the vessel owners, which leads to efficient and safe project execution.
At times, the Ampelmann system would stay mobilised onboard the vessel after a project and can be used as a one-stop shop for a next project, where the set-up is already available.
5. What are the challenges of transferring cargo and equipment for decommissioning projects?
Decommissioning campaigns are usually time-consuming and costly, so it is crucial for cargo and utilities to be transferred both safely and efficiently. The main challenges often arise from bad weather conditions, in which high sea states can disrupt the flow of Decom operations. Yet, those are challenges that gangway systems can overcome.
Amplemann’s Atlas system, for example, was designed to enable uninterrupted cargo and equipment transfers even in rough waters. It is a solution for installing and removing delicate items, such as lifeboats, from vessels in various sea states. The system can hold a load of up to 65t stable while it is being lifted to or lowered from the offshore platform. In other words, the Atlas can lift the weather limitations off clients’ hoisting operations.