Crowley Marine Services' Energy and Marine Services business unit has successfully moved the 312-ft. (9.5-m) square concrete island drilling structure Orlan from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to Sovietskaya Gavan in the Russian Far East for Sakhalin I Project operator, Exxon Neftegas Limited (ENL), a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil Corporation. The Orlan (ex Glomar Beaufort Sea I) Concrete Island Drilling System (CIDS) was purchased from Global Marine Drilling Company and will be used for oil production as part of the Sakhalin 1 project, offshore Russia. It was moved from its stack site near Northstar Island, off Prudhoe Bay using two Crowley Sea Victory Class 7,200 bhp twin screw oceangoing tugs with more than 110 tons bollard pull each. Arctic ice management was handled by Crowley with a third tug contracted for the job, the 23,200 bhp Arctic Kalvik. The certified Ice Class Lloyds +100 A1 Arctic Class 4 tug offered high bollard pull, ice-breaking ability and was well suited with tow gear for arctic and ocean towing.
"The Orlan has a 34-ft. draft and consists of four basic components — a steel mud base, a concrete brick caisson, and two steel deck barges on which the drilling rig, support equipment, and quarters are mounted," said Craig Tornga, General Manger, Alaska Services for Crowley Marine Services.
For the Orlan move Crowley and The Glosten Associates, Inc. developed a risk assessment and readiness review for a table top exercise prior to initiating the job; implemented a Health, Safety and Environmental (HSE) plan, and executed an HSE and Quality Assurance interface program to ensure that the sub-contracted tug was fully compliant with Crowley's Environmental, Safety and Quality Assurance (ESQA) management system.
ENL contracted with The Glosten Associates, Inc. for overall management of the project and with Crowley Alaska, Inc. for the towing. Energy and Marine Services' Jim Macaulay, Director of Marine Operations, was Project Manager for the operation, and Al Anderson, Manager of International Operations, was the tow master. The Crowley team and tugs arrived at Point Barrow in early August to commence the tow, with Crowley making daily flights in the area to monitor ice melt until suitable passage out of Alaska was possible August 31.
"We flew the ice for 25 days until we felt it had melted sufficiently to permit safe passage from Prudhoe Bay to Barrow," said Anderson. "On August 31 the Sea Victory and sister tug the Sea Venture departed Prudhoe Bay with the Orlan in tow, and the ice breaker tug Arctic Kalvik working ahead to make way through the ice as needed."
When the tow arrived off Barrow, Alaska on September 4 the Crowley team set up the Arctic Kalvik with the Sea Victory and Sea Venture for the ocean tow from Barrow to Russia. Because of the large size of the tow, the tugs were refueled along the way by a Russian tanker. A little over a month later, on October 14, Crowley delivered Orlan to Russia, cleared the structure through customs and began arrangements to put the Orlan down in the Sovetskaya Gavan harbor.