Today a brand-new fallpipe vessel for the next generation was launched at Sembawang Shipyard in Singapore. The Flintstone is built on behalf of Tideway, the offshore subsidiary for oil & gas activities of Belgium's Dredging, Environmental and Marine Engineering (DEME) Group. The Flintstone has a carrying capacity of 19,000 tonnes and can place rock with high accuracy at absolute record depths of up to 2,000 m - thanks to highly sophisticated state-of-the art equipment. The vessel is built under Ice Class Notation.
The launching ceremony was presided by Mrs. Nora Kassam, the Lady Sponsor of the day. The Flintstone is the third and biggest fallpipe vessel of Tideway, after the 11,500 tonnes Rollingstone and the 17,500 tonnes Seahorse.
A fallpipe vessel is a very specialised ship consisting of a hold in which graded rock is stocked. The rock material is placed with utmost accuracy onto pipelines or the sea bottom through a 'fallpipe', at the lower end of which a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) is fixed. This ROV is operated from the deck and controls the rock placement in three dimensions. Offshore rock placement is applied mostly to stabilise and protect pipelines, flowlines and (power) cables and for erosion protection purposes. Tideway's new fallpipe vessel is able to carry out rock placement works at a depth of no less than 2,000 m.
The € 115 million investment will provide a further boost the oil & gas activities of Tideway. DEME CEO Alain Bernard was recently on the record as saying that in the next years the Group will focus amongst others on oil & gas related activities, the mining industry and energy utilities. Recent trends in the market (including the increased price of crude oil) have made deep sea pipe laying and deep sea pipeline protection better affordable. The search for deeper offshore oilfields in Brazil, West Africa and the arctic regions is offering new unseen opportunities. In this respect, Flintstone has some very important features.
Flintstone is equipped with Dynamic Positioning (DP2); a highly sophisticated active heave compensated Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV); and state-of-the art survey equipment. The vessel is fully certified for working in arctic conditions by means of its Ice Class notation. The capability to place rock with high accuracy to depths of up to 2,000 m, is a competitive advantage in itself. Her cruising speed of 15 knots is also a valuable asset, since the run to and from the quarry becomes less time consuming - leaving more operational time on the project site. The 'green design' Flintstone was built under Lloyds Environmental Protection Code, which means amongst others the full implementation of energy-saving measures and the limitation of NOx to the absolute minimum.
The final delivery of the Flintstone and the Namegiving Ceremony are expected for the first quarter of 2011. Already now a first assignment has been secured for the Flintstone with the Russian company Sevmash: the installation of scour protection around the Prirazlomnaya Platform in the Barents Sea southwest of Novaya Zemlya.