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Supporting the installation of Appomattox FPS

This project for Heerema Marine Contractors (HMC) provided marine simulation studies to support the installation of Shell’s Appomattox Floating Production System.

5 July 2018

Energy and Resources

Before installation, the topside and hull of Appomattox, Shell's largest floating platform in the Gulf of Mexico, were integrated at Kiewit Offshore Services (KOS), Ingleside, Texas. The completed platform was then wet-towed from the KOS integration yard to the installation site. 

Frans Lichtenbeld, Towmaster at HMC, commented:

"One of the biggest risks associated with this tow was the inshore tow from the integration yard to the sea buoy at the end of the Aransas Pass.  The departure through the La Quinta and Corpus Christi ship channels presented some particularly challenging manoeuvring, control and navigation issues."

To facilitate this operation, we delivered a multi-user training simulator to enable HMC to investigate towage operation obstacles and manoeuvring characteristics of the hull during the coastal part of the tow, covering La Quinta Corpus Christi Ship Channel and Aransas Pass.  These studies played an integral role in identifying overall obstacles during the towage operation and developing operating strategies. Furthermore, the studies helped determine rational weather and tidal operating limits and provided training and familiarisation for the towmasters, tug captains, pilots, and other marine personnel involved in the tow. 

Suba Sivandran at BMT, commented:

"There were several phases to the simulation studies HMC required.  Firstly, we developed Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) calculations to determine the hydrodynamic and propulsion properties of the platform and the close-coupled tugs.  Once those CFD calculations were in place, physical model testing of the platform and close-coupled tugs in a shallow water basin were carried out to confirm results of the CFD analysis."
We further developed a hydraulic simulation of the tidal and non-tidal current flow through the Corpus Christi channels, which provided a time series of the currents likely to be encountered during the tow.  The final phase was delivering the training simulator suite to the customer's site in Texas and constructing simulation models of the tow using the REMBRANDT navigation simulator, which incorporated the tow handling and environmental models developed in the preceding stages.

Mumanthi Mvuria, a Specialist Engineer at HMC, said:

"This preparation work was a critical part of the planning phase and as such, resulted in the safe arrival of the system to its final destination in the Gulf of Mexico."

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