Combi Lift has completed the first of five phases of inland towage for Gazprom’s Amur gas project with eight custom-built tugs and Nibulon has built its first icebreaking tug in Ukraine
A fleet of tugs built earlier this year for an eastern Russia inland towage project have completed the first phase of heavy lifts. Combi Lift is using eight tugs and seven barges to transport cargo for Gazprom’s Amur gas processing plant (GPP) construction project in the Amur region of Siberia. There are several other phases of work that will keep these tugs and barges employed at least until Q4 2022.
Combi Lift ordered shallow draught tugs and multicat workboats for transporting heavy project cargo up the Amur and Zeya rivers from the port of De-Kastri in the far east of Russia to the river terminal at Svobodny. These vessels and the seven pontoon barges were built by Damen Shipyards for this project and delivered on a heavy lift ship in Q2 this year.
They are owned by Combi Lift subsidiary, AAS Amur Asset Shipping, and designed to access these shallow rivers in cold weather. Project transportation work is conducted in ice-free periods during the northern hemisphere spring and summer each year.
The first phase of heavy lift cargo transportation was completed for subcontractor and Amur GPP constructor Linde Group on 16 September. In total, 79 pieces of cargo with a combined weight of 61,755 tonnes were transported from De-Kastri to Svobodny between May and September this year. Each voyage from De-Kastri to the jetty is 2,371-km long and takes around 21 days.
During a five-year period, Combi Lift will transport more than 176,000 tonnes of cargo, including 12 columns that weigh 900 tonnes each. The final cargo is scheduled to be delivered to the Svobodny terminal on the Zeyr River by October 2022.
Combi Lift head of project management for the Gazprom Amur GPP project Holger Krenz said the second phase of heavy transport is expected to commence on 15 May 2019. He noted the success of transportation during the first phase this year.
“There were no damages during the entire first transport phase, which was completed one month before the last contractual delivery date”
“The project preparation phase and later operations were very efficient,” said Mr Krenz. “There were no damages during the entire first transport phase, which was completed one month before the last contractual delivery date.”
He said one of the major challenges was that some parts of the Amur River and the Zeya tributary had a depth of only 1.10 m. Weather conditions were “often severe”, which would have an impact on towage operations. Combi Lift overcame these challenges. “We developed a sophisticated concept to master this difficult feat,” said Mr Krenz.
Heavy lift vessels transport the project cargo from ports in Europe and South Korea. These are transferred to barges on the sheltered inner anchorage at the De-Kastri port which are then towed by shallow draught pusher tugs up the Amur and then Zeyr rivers to the discharge jetty. Another contractor is responsible for transporting cargo from Svobodny to the construction site.
Combi Lift operates four pusher tugs, each with a draught of 1.45 m on the Amur River and four multicat vessels with shallower draughts of 0.85 m on the Zeya River. Damen also delivered seven 89-m Stan pontoon barges and four 86-m side floaters for this project. Stan pontoons were designed with low weight and draught, while the side floaters provide extra lateral ballastable buoyancy to the pontoons.
Each of the tugs and barges operate under the Russian flag and are classed by Russian River Register and the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping.
Gazprom’s Amur GPP will become one of the world’s largest natural gas processing plants. It will have an annual processing capacity of up to 42Bn m3 and will help supply gas from eastern Siberian gas fields to China. Construction is expected to be completed in 2024.
Pusher tugs and multicats
Combi Lift uses pusher tugs De-Kastri, Nikolaevsk-on-Amur, Komsomolsk-on-Amur and Khabarovsk on the Amur River. These were built to Damen’s 2612 SD design at the Hardinxveld shipyard in the Netherlands. They have an overall length of 24.9 m, a moulded beam of 11.9 m and hull depth of 2.7 m.
They have a displacement of 325 gt, bollard pull of 13.5 tonnes and maximum speed of 9.5 knots. In the engineroom there are two Caterpillar C04.4 TA generator sets and three Caterpillar C12 TA B main engines with a combined power of 861 kW at speeds of 1,800 rpm. These are linked to Reintjes-supplied gearboxes and drive fixed pitch propellers with a diameter of 110 cm.
Damen’s Hardinxveld shipyard also built Blagoveshchensk, Chernigovka, Novopetrovka and Svobodny to a Multicat 2608 SD design. These have an overall length of 25.9 m and moulded beam of 8.5 m. Their displacement is 145 gt and they have bollard pull of 8 tonnes and full speed of 9 knots. These multicats have two Caterpillar C12 TA B engines and two Caterpillar C-04.4 NA gensets.
In Ukraine, industrial and shipping group Nibulon has taken delivery of the first of a series of icebreaking tugs it is building at its own shipyards. It celebrated the arrival of Nibulon 100, the first T3500 design tug, into the fleet in September.
A series of multipurpose seagoing and inland river T3500 tugs will be built by Nibulon. Arrival of Nibulon 100 was the first time vessels of this class have been built in Ukraine for 13 years. It was launched in May 2018 and then outfitted for operations.
Nibulon 100 was designed to escort ships along the Buh-Dnipro-Lyman channel and to escort convoys of non-self-propelled vessels, of up to four units at a time.
It will be used to escort convoys along the channels during ice conditions in the navigation area in the Dnipro River and in the Black Sea. It is capable of assisting and mooring ships at terminals in the river and has equipment for fire-fighting and pollution control.
Nibulon 100’s propulsion comes from MTU main engines and thrusters supplied by Rolls-Royce. It also has engineroom equipment provided by Volvo-Penta.
T3500 tugs are capable of breaking ice of up to 60 cm thickness along channels, rivers and the open sea. Their rudder propellers mean it is highly manoeuvrable in open water and ice, which is required for escorting and mooring ships.
Nibulon has almost completed the second T3500 tug at its shipyard and anticipates this will enter service early in October. The shipyard has started construction of a POSS-115 design project tug and a self-propelled project floating crane with an overall length of 140 m.