Two next generation deepwater pipeline ploughs designed and built by IHC Engineering Business (EB) have successfully left EB's Hadrian Riverside workshops on Tyneside en route for extensive offshore commissioning and installation on the owner's vessels.
The new build PL3 and BPL3 ploughs are the largest subsea ploughs EB has developed. Designed to handle pipeline diameters of up to 1.55m, in water depths of 1000m, they will be used for the burial of main pipeline trunk routes across the globe. Their design follows the theme of ploughs being specified for ever-larger pipe diameters, to match technological developments.
"We're truly passionate about ploughs," says EB's managing director, Dr Tony Trapp. "And, we were genuinely excited to have been challenged to deliver a game changing plough system. Our design focused on increasing levels of performance, productivity, reliability and safety and will allow our client to trench the largest and longest subsea pipelines. During the whole process of design and build we took maximum advantage of the proven North East of England supply chain."
"We were asked to design a trenching spread matched to the exceptional capabilities of the vessel", explains Mike Crosby, Senior Engineer for the ploughs. "As such, the new PL3 plough weighs some 200 tonnes, is 22m long, has 100 tonne capacity pipe handling equipment front and back, and can create a 2.5m deep trench after mulitpass, and a 2.3m maximum single pass trench. The control system will be built into the ship bridge module, and this together with the use of a buoyant control umbilical will greatly increase productivity in comparison to previous spreads."
"BPL3 is unlike any previous backfill plough. Aimed at reducing the risk of damage to the trenched pipeline, its front skids run outside the trench. As a result it has been designed to fold into itself, rather like a spider, for launch and recovery. Its design ensures it is possible to launch the plough in the correct orientation to save time during deployment."
"The larger the pipe diameter, the more technical issues the designers face," explains Andrew Stevenson, EB's Director of Sales. "Here at EB we love challenges. The PL3 and BPL3 have taken around two years from concept to ex works delivery, during which we have established a close working relationship with our client's team. This has proved to be a true partnership which has resulted in two superb ploughs destined to have a long and productive working life with EB there to provide support when ever required."