Due to the dynamic development of the oil and gas fields in the Arctic, the challenges of supply fleet sizing and composition in this region are becoming relevant. In most studies, the Arctic is mainly associated with ice conditions, but it is not the only factor that influences the design of platform supply vessels (PSV) and corresponding marine transport systems (MTS) for this region. The structure of cargo flow (i.e. its distribution by cargo types) affects the supply system significantly. It defines the level of utilization of vessel capacity that determines transport efficiency. At the same time, the literature represents this aspect poorly.

This paper describes an approach to optimize supply fleet configuration by the criterion of total cost considering both non-stationary ice conditions and structure of cargo flows. The cargo-flow-oriented design concept incorporates the detailed calculation model of PSV and the special tactical planning algorithm. PSV model allows considering the influence of cargo spaces on the main characteristics and operational parameters of the ship. It covers the main design aspects of PSVs: general arrangement; lines plan; resistance in open water and ice; engine and propeller characteristics; hydrostatics; capacity and mass calculation. The pseudo-optimal tactical planning algorithm is intended to build the plan of voyages and to set the size of fleet considering the structure of cargo flow.

As the test example, we examine a task of servicing the group of platforms in the Kara Sea. The case study shows that cargo flow structure has a high influence on the efficiency of PSVs in case of high-load operation; while a widespread “deck-cargo” approach is unable to consider this aspect because it ignores the vessel’s carrying capacity and payload. The conclusion about a higher efficiency of PSV compared to AHTS with the same displacement was drawn.

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