Supporting active drilling operations sets new level of CTV engagement
UK-based crew transfer specialist High-Speed Transfers (HST) has announced that its second vessel of Damen’s new FCS 2710 class will be contracted by Shell to support its exploration programme in the Black Sea commencing March 2019.
Damen has long been in discussion with Shell and other oil majors on where and how to change the logistical mix for crew change purposes by accessing Damen’s portfolio of marine access solutions. An intensive, multi-disciplinary R&D programme attuned to industry input has resulted in Damen developing vessels that combine increased efficiency and safety with lower costs. HST began discussions via their broker, Clarksons Platou with Shell in mid-2018 regarding a collaboration. This initial pilot assessment of the benefits of reducing dependency on helicopters and larger OSVs to move personnel working on active drilling operations represents a paradigm shift for the oil major. Damen’s R&D department worked with Shell and the classification societies to provide the necessary technical data, and Shell has been closely monitoring the operations of the first FCS 2710, HST Hudson, since it entered service in July 2018.
The FCS 2710 vessel will be trialled by HST to undertake oil & gas crew transfers to support the Noble Globetrotter II drill ship. The vessel will shortly begin an exploration drilling programme in the Khan Kubrat block, around 70 miles south-east of the Bulgarian port of Varna, where the HST Sofia will be based.
“This represents potentially a major break-out for vessels of this type, given that their development was focused on serving the offshore renewables sector,” says HST’s managing director Tom Nevin. We’re pleased that a leading oil & gas major like Shell has invested time and money to assess the FCS 2710 for the demands of crew changes for active drilling operations, and all credit to Damen for designing a vessel that works equally well for both.”
The strength of the design is demonstrated by the fact that the HST Sofia is essentially identical to the HST Hudson, with just a few minor adjustments to the internal layout.
“We will also be using local crews,” says Tom. “They will be experienced in offshore transfers and comprehensively trained on the HST Sofia. Access will be via Frog crew transfer carrier so, as always, safety will be of paramount importance. We have a local partner in G&L Maritime & NMB as our local agents, which has been of huge importance. We will also receive all the technical support we need from Damen Shipyards Mangalia, which is a few hours north of Varna. In all, this is a very exciting project for HST and we are very happy to be involved.”
“Our entire portfolio of crew change vessels has been designed in close collaboration with oil companies and operators,” said David Stibbe, Damen’s director of business development. “Our aim has always been to deliver lower cost, safer and more efficient crew changes. The specifications, performance and operational data of the new FCS 2710 provided the evidence needed to initiate this pilot project. We wish HST and Shell every success with HST Sofia.”