Final preparations underway to recover Maureen platform

Jun 13, 2001 02:00 AM

Final preparations are underway to recover a huge, re-usable Scottish-built oil production platform from the North Sea in a trailblazing operation that could start late this month. If the Phillips Petroleum project to recover the Maureen platform is successful, it will provide valuable lessons as to how other large North Sea structures with integral oil storage tanks can be recovered as fields become exhausted.
At 112,000 tons, no-one has every attempted to refloat anything this large before. Most of the preparatory work has been done in readiness for the refloat. A three-day good weather window is needed before Phillips and its contractor Aker Maritime of Norway can make the attempt.

While a spokesman for Phillips played down the suggestion of a late June recovery, he told that, after 18 months of work, massive Maureen would be refloated within weeks. He said pumps needed to inject powerful jets of seawater below the bases of three huge steel storage tanks which act as the platform's base were now being installed.
The jetting systems will be used to clear away huge quantities of silt and break the suction between the tanks and the seabed before the platform's own buoyancy can take over. With Maureen's tanks already empty, Phillips and Aker hope the platform will float clear smoothly and safely, and that they will then be able to tow it to Norway for storage until its fate is finally decided, probably later this year.
Early last year, a consortium of North-east Scottish businessmen had hoped to persuade Phillips to take Maureen to the former Kishorn fabrication yard on the Scottish West Coast for storage and either reconditioning for further use or breaking up if that hope proved impossible to realise. Kishorn is where the platform was completed in 1983.

Phillips Petroleum has been actively marketing the platform for at least three years but apparently without luck. The company continues to believe it offers a ready-made solution for an oil/gas development somewhere in the world where the water depth is similar and on-site storage is required.

Source: Financial Times Ltd.
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