Ardent Global is the world’s largest salvor; it’s innovative solutions augment the world’s toolbox of equipment and services
In little over three and a half years, Ardent Global has risen to be the marine world’s largest salvor by value revenue, tonnage and number of projects. Among its portfolio of projects, decommissioning projects feature strongly. The company works across the value chain from asset retirement through to removal, site remediation and monitoring.
Having the Crowley Corporation and Svitzer as parent companies obviously helped its meteoric rise. Given this heritage Ardent can also offer clients the option of taking on legal title of an asset due for decommissioning at the hydrocarbon-free stage. Operators benefit from having the asset and liability for its operating and insurance costs removed from its balance sheet. Ardent benefits by carrying out all phases of the project, from removal through to recycling. Title transfer is not commonplace in the oil and gas industry. Ardent is believed to be the first to offer this service when it comes to decommissioning.
At the core of Ardent’s value proposition, explained business development director Stuart Martin, is the group’s ‘asset-light’ philosophy. “The company does not own any decommissioning vessels or major equipment. The preference is to use the world toolbox wherever possible,” he said. This means trying to find the right asset and tools on the open market. “And if it doesn't, if we can't find something that will fit the job. We design, build and deploy our own systems.”
Ardent is pioneering the title transfer concept, familiar to the oil and gas industry, in the decommissioning sector. The company draws on its existing insurance arrangements to take on the title of a client’s offshore structure. The value to the operator is reduced risk exposure and potentially lower premiums. Ardent’s gain is the contract to undertake the entire project from removal to recycling (source: Ardent Gobal)
On a recent retrieval of a jackup rig, the company recovered the asset by designing and building a guillotine, and then chopping the jackup into manageable pieces so that it could easily be pulled off the seabed. The company has also designed and will build its own recovery system for retrieving jackets as an alternative to heavy-lift vessels.
Ardent undertakes projects on a lump sum basis. “This gives the client certainty and supports us in applying the best of what we know, streamlining project management, and offering the client a one stop solution,” said Mr Martin.
Ardent’s innovative approach has drawn admirers and the group is a member of the UK government-funded Oil and Gas Technology Centre. “We have become a technology anchoring company and just delivered a first project.”
Ardent is currently decommissioning two platforms in the southern North Sea and removing a TLP in the Gulf of Mexico. Mr Martin said the company is confident of securing further work in the North Sea in the coming months.
From the case files: Tarsiut Drilling Island
ConocoPhillips built Tarsiut Drilling Island in the Canadian Beaufort Sea in the early 1980s for drilling exploration wells in the extremely harsh environment off Canada’s northern shores. To support year-round drilling in ice-infested waters, the island was reinforced with four massive, 5,500-ton concrete caissons measuring 226 feet (69 m) long and 49 feet (15 m). In Arctic waters, caissons surround equipment below the waterline, protecting it from damage caused by drifting ice.
Gulf Canada drilled two wells from the location in 1981–1982, with as many as 131 people onsite at a time. But despite the innovative approach, Tarsiut Island could not withstand severe Arctic storms. The platform was decommissioned in 1984 and the caissons were towed to Thetis Bay, offshore Herschel Island in the Yukon province.
In 2017 Ardent was brought in to re-float the island and tow it on a semisubmersible barge from the Beaufort Sea to Mexico for breakup. “There was cross-border environmental legislation to comply with and a very long tow with very little by way of support mechanisms in such a remote location,” recalled Ardent business development director Stuart Martin.
“We only had access to the ice-bound Beaufort Sea for eight weeks so literally had a five-week turnaround time to do this. We couldn't demolish in situ and had to achieve our objectives with sensitivity to the local environment and its indigenous communities.”
The project was undertaken on a mixed commercial basis: part lump sum; part day rate; part on a cost/plus basis. Critical equipment was brought in from all over the USA and Canada by truck and ice roads.
The project was managed on time and on budget without a single incident.
“We overcame environmental challenges, put together a supply chain, we dealt with all the unknowns around the structure, complied with all the rules and regulations, including Conoco Phillips’ processes and procedures while managing stakeholder engagement between the client, contractors, the government and local community,” said Mr Martin.