Our Norwegian partner, AXTech, is pleased to announce the award of a contract by Soil Machine Dynamics (SMD) in Newcastle, UK, for the supply of three launch and recovery systems (LARS) for handling of seafloor production tools (SPTs). The contract (up to €20m) is by far AXTech’s largest, and will run until end of 2012.

The scope of supply is for three launch and recovery systems (LARS) systems comprising A-frames, winches, sheave units and hydraulic power units (HPUs). The systems shall handle loads of 250mt (and wire weight) between the vessel and seabed. The maximum operating depth is 2,500m. Each of the hydraulic power units for operation of the winches and A-frames has a total installed power of approximately 2,200kW – 2,400kW.

All three systems shall be installed on the production support vessel. Designing equipment capable of handling such large loads at great water depths will be an exciting challenge for AXTech. AXTech have, however, successfully designed similar sized equipment before in other applications.

SMD is one of the world’s leading companies for the supply of ROVs, trenching systems, components and special projects. They have a worldwide customer base operating in markets in oil and gas, telecoms, mining, salvage, military and scientific research.

SMD is responsible for provision of all three production machines, including the LARS systems, to the final client Nautilus Minerals (‘Nautilus’), a seafloor production company with their head office in Canada.

Nautilus is developing a production system using existing technologies adapted from the offshore oil and gas industry to enable the extraction of these high-grade seafloor massive sulphide (SMS) systems on a commercial scale. This in co-operation with suppliers of specialised heavy-duty equipment such as SMD and AXTech.

Nautilus is the first company to commercially explore the seafloor for massive sulphide systems, a potential source of high-grade copper, gold, zinc and silver. The world’s first seafloor copper-gold project, Solwara 1, is under development in Papua New Guinea.

AXTech SPT LARS will be utilised initially at the Solwara 1 site in water depths of up to 1,700m.