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Massive crane offloads Wick towheads

By Gordon Calder

THE biggest crane assembled at Wick harbour was used to offload three towheads for a major contract being undertaken by Subsea 7 at its Caithness base.

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.

Subsea 7 site manager Willie Watt
Subsea 7 site manager Willie Watt

Subsea 7's local site manager, Willie Watt, was delighted with how the operation went and said the new system provided more flexibility than working with a barge which is more dependent on tides.

"It was the first time we had used this type of crane which is the biggest ever set up at Wick harbour and everything went really well," he said.

"We lifted two structures from the boat but it had to shelter off Lybster when the wind turned from the west to the east. We then got the two remaining items off. The operation lasted from Tuesday until Saturday. There would have been a longer delay if we had used a barge."

The structures were taken through Wick and on to the Wester site. Mr Watt praised the understanding shown by the public during the operation.

"It is a slow process but is an important part of the industry within Caithness and we are grateful to the public and businesses for their patience," he said.

The towheads are part of the multimillion-pound contract for the Snorre oil and gas field in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea.

The three pipeline bundles incorporate the largest diameter pipe assembled in the far north and include the control umbilicals required for the development. The initial launch is due to happen at the end of the May, although it will be weather dependent. It is expected the third pipeline will be ready to go next year.

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

Mr Watt said further delivery of pipe for the Snorre development is due in the next four weeks while other shipments will arrive for other projects later in the year.

At present, Subsea 7 employs around 100 staff at its Caithness sites and is positive about its future opportunities.

"We are looking to be very busy and are bidding for some lucrative contracts. We are optimistic about how the North Sea is developing and how our products fit in with their requirements," Mr Watt added.

The crane at Wick harbour.
The crane at Wick harbour.

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