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Editorial comment

Newbuild in the NetherlandsThis week I visited the Ceona Amazon multi-purpose pipelaying ship, which is sitting in dock at the Huisman’s yard in Schiedam in the Netherlands.

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The Ceona Amazon is a purpose-built versatile deepwater field development vessel, designed for operation in deeper waters such as off the coast of West Africa, in the Gulf of Mexico and offshore Brazil. Lloyd Werft built the ship after Ceona designed it in-house, and it has been a very quick two years in the making. The pipelay and cranes equipment has been provided and installed by Huisman (in a handy colour coding exercise, everything that is yellow on deck has been provided by Huisman). The vessel has a 570 t multi-lay pipetower, two heavy duty 400 t offshore cranes and a special G-lay pipelay system, which is quite something to behold. The G-lay system features an inclinable lay spread, with up to 570 t of top tension, and a rigid firing line system. Steel pipe joints are assembled along a traditional S-lay spread and then pipe is deflected around a stern wheel and up, up into a conventional pipelay tower with two tensioners, before exiting vertically through the large 8 x 13.5 m midship moonpool (as in J-lay operations).

Designed to carry 8500 t of pipe, the Ceona Amazon will lay rigid, flexible and umbilical pipes and install heavy subsea structures with two cranes working in tandem. Based on a drillship design, the vessel boasts excellent sea-keeping characteristics, and has a pipelay tower placed as close as possible to the transverse axis of the ship, so as to minimise the effect of vessel motions on the pipe installation stresses. This will hopefully go some way in protecting field joints during pipelaying. Other supplies are: Emerging Markets Communications (EMC), which provided onboard communications; Ennsub will provide two ultra deepwater ROV launch and recovery systems for ROVOP (ROVOP is deploying heavy duty and ultra-heavy duty hydraulic work-class ROV systems, manufactured by FMC Technologies Schilling Robotics, from its growing fleet of modern ROVs to Ceona’s ships).

The ship is a massive 199.4 m long and 32.2 m wide, and she will enter into service soon. In fact, my trip was very much a ‘seeing off’ of the vessel, which was pieced together in Bremerhaven, Germany, floated at Crist yard in Poland and kitted out in the Netherlands and is due to sail this month.

In 2013, Douglas-Westwood predicted that “pipelay vessel rates would increase by up to 8% for high spec.” We find ourselves in new territory in 2015 as, along with the oil price, the rates for offshore supply vessels are tumbling. Nevertheless, DW’s latest vessel report (‘World Subsea Vessel Operations Market Forecast 2015 - 2019’) is confident that vessel demand will accelerate, with “Deepwater Gulf of Mexico, West Africa and Brazil … expected to account for 40% of global expenditure”.

London-based Ceona is a young company (created in 2012, with backing from Goldman Sachs Capital Partners), and the Amazon is the flagship vessel on which it will now hang its hat. The company’s other vessels in the fleet are two subsea construction vessels, the Normand Pacific (flexible pipelay) and the Polar Onyx (DP3+ and flexible pipelay), which has been working offshore Brazil.

Talking of Brazil, the World Pipelines team is currently busy working on the annual Brazil issue, which we publish each autumn. This year’s Brazil issue will be the 9th edition and we always have a keen interest in new vessels being deployed in Brazilian waters. Other vessels recently in service include the new pipelaying vessels from Susbea 7 (built by IHC) Seven Rio and Seven Waves (with Seven Cruzeiro and Seven Suns still to come); the PLSV Sapura Diamante from SapuraKencana Petroleum (another IHC build, with a few more jewels to come: Onix, Jade, Esmerelda and Rubi); and the Saipem FDS 2 and new company flagship MV Castorone.

Look out for the Brazil issue at Rio Pipeline and OTC Brazil later in the year!

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