Allseas’ Pioneering Spirit removes Morecambe Bay topsides

The world’s largest vessel Pioneering Spirit has successfully executed the single-lift removal of the former DP3 gas production topsides from Spirit Energy’s Morecambe Bay development in the East Irish Sea. This follows the removal of the adjacent DP4 topsides and subsequent transport to the UK in April.

The vessel’s motion-compensated lift technology proved hugely effective in the shallow waters of Morecambe Bay, renowned for strong currents and challenging tidal conditions. For both the DP3 and DP4 operations, it was a matter of hours between arrival in the field and safe execution of the topsides’ lifts.

Allseas’ scope covers engineering, preparation, removal and disposal of two 11,000-tonne normally unmanned installations (NUMIs) and 1000 tonnes of connected subsea infrastructure. The latter, including wellheads, pipelines and umbilicals, was removed by Allseas’ construction support vessel Oceanic in a complicated sequence of approximately 180 lifts.

Pioneering Spirit will return to Morecambe Bay to remove the DP3 and DP4 supporting jackets in 2023.

Also read: Pioneering Spirit lays over five kilometres of Baltic gas pipeline a day

First heavy-lift job outside the North Sea

Operational since 2016, the DP3 and DP4 topsides removals for Spirit Energy is the vessel’s first heavy lift assignment outside the North Sea. Still a relative newcomer to the offshore heavy lift market, Pioneering Spirit has already installed and removed over 200,000 tonnes of platform weight, moving the work onshore where it is safer and quicker.

Equipped with motion compensation technology and capable of lifting entire offshore structures up to 48,000 tonnes in just a few hours, Pioneering Spirit spends significantly less time in the field compared to conventional heavy lift barges, which Allseas says results in drastically reduced emissions footprint.

Also read: Allseas’ deepsea mining efforts intensify

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

Mariska Buitendijk is one of SWZ|Maritime's journalists as well as the magazine's copy editor.