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Bright future in the pipeline for Subsea 7 in Caithness


By Gordon Calder

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The massive Snorre East bundle launch in progress at the Wester site. Picture: Subsea 7
The massive Snorre East bundle launch in progress at the Wester site. Picture: Subsea 7

THE future for Subsea 7 at its Caithness yards looks "very positive", according to site manager Willie Watt.

The company, which makes pipeline bundles for oil companies, is busy with two contracts and is tendering for other work.

Mr Watt was speaking just before two towheads were due to be transferred from Wick harbour to Wester.

One is a conventional towhead and is due to be moved today, while the other – the biggest to be moved through Wick – is 285 tons and will be transported in two stages on Monday and Tuesday.

It will be taken from the harbour to the Lochshell business park and then transferred to a special trailer before going on to Wester. The towheads are for the Buzzard field which is over 100 kilometres north-east of Aberdeen.

The huge towhead that is due to be transported early next week. Picture: DGS
The huge towhead that is due to be transported early next week. Picture: DGS

To get the massive towhead through Wick, modifications have to be made to the road network and overhead cables moved. The pipeline bundles – one measuring 250 metres and the other 5.3 kilometres – are due to be launched in late summer.

Subsea 7 is also busy with a contract for the Snorre field which lies in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea. Last week, the company launched its biggest ever bundle which weighed 10,500 tons. "It was really challenging but very successful," Mr Watt said.

He explained the bundle is for the Snorre East oilfield while another is to be built for Snorre North. Subsea won an order for three bundles for the field, one of which was installed last July, with the third one due to launched shortly.

The company employs over 120 people at its sites at Wester and Hastigrow. "We will be busy all the way through to September and are pricing various work and working with clients to secure further orders," Mr Watt said.

"The oil price has dropped and coronavirus is having an effect on loads of things but our long-term prospects look very positive. Our product is right for the North Sea and matches the requirements of our clients."

Towhead at the north side of Wick harbour. Pictures: DGS
Towhead at the north side of Wick harbour. Pictures: DGS

The biggest crane assembled at Wick harbour was used to offload the three towheads for the multimillion-pound contract for the Snorre field. Twenty trucks were needed to take the crane to its position on the north river pier and assemble it in preparation for the lifts.

The three towheads and a protection structure were lifted off a special monohull vessel and transported to the company's Wester site and then to their various locations along the track to Hastigrow.

The pipeline bundles incorporate the largest diameter pipe assembled in the far north and include the control umbilicals required for the development.

The Snorre field is sited within the Tampen area of the Norwegian North Sea and has been operational since August 1992.


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