Decommissioning is an emerging sector in the UK and Norway, accounting for 2% of total industry expenditure in 2010 increasing to 8% in 2017. In accordance with existing regulations in the North Sea (OSPAR), dumping, and leaving wholly or partly in place disused offshore installations within the maritime area is prohibited. Over the next eight years, 200 platforms are expected to be removed in the North Sea.
There are a number of methods to remove offshore installations: Piece small, Reverse installation and Single lift. In the Single lift approach the jacket or the topside is removed in one piece, minimizing significantly the time offshore and therefore the safety and health incidents. But the Piece Small and Reverse Installation are the most common methods and are established and secure although are time consuming and labor intensive .
Several potential candidates for single lift technology at varying levels of technical readiness were considered in the past. The majority of the concepts remained on the drawing board, while some were awaiting project commitment. The only that was matured further than this is the Pioneering Spirit. Yme, its first commercial lift, gave this concept the “proven” status.
The Yme MOPU, owned by Repsol, was a jack-up type platform standing on three steel legs of 3.5 m diameter. The dry weight of the MOPU was approximately 13,500 t. The Yme MOPU was a challenging unit to remove mainly for three reasons: The platform motions due to the lack of stiffness in the leg support, its position in contact with the caisson wellhead platform, and the fact that the legs could not be pre-cut before the operation. The method selected to remove the platform was Single lift, using the dynamically positioned platform installation and removal vessel Pioneering Spirit.
The lifting arrangement consisted of 12 lift beams combined and connected in pairs to yokes. Five specifically designed yokes were installed. The yokes connect the TLS with the MOPU. The structural integrity of each interface was assessed with FE analysis. The Ballast system was used to provide additional clearance. Pioneering Spirit has a total of eighty-seven ballast water tanks, including four so called ‘Quick Drop Ballast Water Tanks’. The removal of the MOPU was performed successfully the 22nd August 2016, after two days work offshore.