Viking SeaTech has completed its first major marine consultancy project in the North Sea with the delivery and safe transit of Ithaca Energy’s FPF-1 floating production facility (FPF) from Poland to a location in the Greater Stella Area.

After a programme of modification works in the Remontowa yard in Gdansk, Poland, Viking SeaTech’s marine team was contracted to undertake the 700nm tow and hook-up in the Central North Sea.

Viking SeaTech called on its official alliance with Seacroft Marine Consultants, which supplied contract marine representatives and a towmaster for the rig move phase of the project.

This operation took several months of onshore planning and four weeks of offshore project management to deliver.

The operation involved a two vessel parallel tow, using polyethylene tow lines for towing of the FPF, and negotiation of a narrow shipping channel in the Baltic Sea.

"Once in the UKCS, we used a pre-planned tug strategy to move the FPF to an exact position within the field."

Viking SeaTech North Sea region/regional business leader John Dick said: “We were involved in one of the highest profile projects currently ongoing in the UK Continental Shelf and were pleased to advise on the marine aspects of the tow and deliver the unit on time without incident.

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“We provided marine support and reviewed procedures ahead of the tow and hook-up schedule.”

Measuring 82m by 75m, the rig was towed through the Drogden Channel in Danish waters using two main anchor handling vessels (AHV) and two support tugs.

The channel is used by more than 30,000 ships a year, yet only 300m-wide and essentially the maximum draft permitted is less than 8m.

Dick added: “On board the FPF-1, the VST offshore team worked closely with all parties involved, including the AHV crews and the FPF-1 marine supervisor, to ensure sufficient keel clearance was maintained as we negotiated the 10km long channel.

“Once in the UKCS, we used a pre-planned tug strategy to move the FPF to an exact position within the field. It was hooked-up to 12 pre-set mooring lines and is now set to begin its production activities.

“The constant dialogue between all parties, including the position keeping and hook up vessels, the duty holder and Ithaca itself, was vital.”

Polyethylene ropes wires were chosen for the tow due to ease of removal after hook-up. The use of these ropes instead of chain and wire in the towing bridal reduced risks generated in the manual handling process during connection and provided more protection to subsea assets in case of any failure.

The Greater Stella Area Field is one of the current positives for the UKCS, with first hydrocarbons due this year.