An Arctic Tow by ITC

Kigoria and Arctic Kalvik worked together on an arctic rig move. Kigoria and Arctic Kalvik worked together on an arctic rig move.

During the recent winter weather in Europe a report was received from Dutch towage specialists International Transport Contractors (ITC) concerning an interesting Arctic tow carried out last summer. The tow involved the relocation of the purpose built arctic drilling platform SDC from Port Clearance to an offshore location in Prudhoe Bay off the north coast of Alaska.

Using the ITC managed icebreaking anchor-handler Kigoria and chartered Arctic Kalvik, each with 196 tonnes bollard pull, the 146,780grt rig was towed under the guidance of experienced icemaster Capt Clive Cunningham and project co-ordinator Don Connally.

Special permission was granted by the 'Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation' to carry out the operation in this ecologically sensitive area and whale watchers were present onboard the Kigoria during the whole operation. Where possible both tugs were used to tow the 218m x 110m unit, achieving up to 4 knots on 80 per cent of their available power. During the early days of the tow excellent conditions were met and operating with 24 hours daylight with beautiful skies was a new and wonderful experience for the tug crews.

After one week the first iceflows were met and Kigoria was disconnected for ice breaking and reconnaissance duties and at the same time fog resulted in a completely different environment and Polar bears were seen on the ice. The Arctic rig was set down on McCovey drilling location after a tow of some 12 days and Kigoria was then instructed to proceed to the northern port of Tuktoyuktuk to load drilling tubulars.

SDC is is managed by Seatankers Management Co.Ltd and reinforced with 1m thick concrete and extra supports to operate all-year-round in ice conditions. Extensive storage capability enables the unit to drill two 16,000ft wells before the need to re-supply. The rig has comprehensive computer layout for monitoring weather, ice and geo-technical conditions in the hostile Alaska environment.

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