North Sea Ops and Wind Turbines

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CharlieOneSix
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North Sea Ops and Wind Turbines

#1 Post by CharlieOneSix » Mon Nov 13, 2023 7:28 pm

Today's Press & Journal newspaper has a notice that a planning application has been made for an offshore windfarm 50 miles east of Peterhead in north east Scotland. It will consist of 35 wind turbines which will be 866ft high. It won't be the only windfarm directly under the Helicopter Route Structure to offshore rigs and platforms. It's just as well modern helicopters are capable of flight in some icing conditions as in days of yore when we all scrabbled around at 500-1000ft to avoid icing conditions the proximity of these windfarms would surely have led to an incident.
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Re: North Sea Ops and Wind Turbines

#2 Post by FD2 » Mon Nov 13, 2023 9:29 pm

Bristow lost the contracts that would have kept us at North Denes, using the old 'grandfather' rights boggy grass strip there. I did an ad hoc trip from there two years later because CHC didn't want the work. It entailed taking a team to the BAE towers which were used to monitor high level air exercises over the southern North Sea. The platforms were unmanned and provided nesting and crapping places for thousands of grateful seabirds so were actually white with guano. It was difficult to keep the stuff out of the aircraft when we picked the maintenance crews up later in the day so the aircraft stank despite the poor engineers doing a deep clean after each flight got back to Norwich.

Those were the first flights out of North Denes since we had moved to Norwich and in the meantime Scroby Sands, formerly the peaceful resting place of lots of seals, had been 'developed' with a wind farm. Taking off heading east from the east-west 'runway' was alarming as these windmills were right ahead so an immediate left turn was needed although these were mini versions of the ones that C16 mentions near Peterhead. No doubt the SNP will spout the same guff as the makers about powering big cities, conveniently forgetting the 20% odd max output which is normal. I wonder who is stumping up the dosh?

Here's a nice view of Scroby Wind Farm with a jack up driller in Great Yarmouth Harbour. It's actually a lot closer than it looks in the photo!



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Re: North Sea Ops and Wind Turbines

#3 Post by FD2 » Mon Nov 13, 2023 9:31 pm

CharlieOneSix wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2023 7:28 pm
Today's Press & Journal newspaper has a notice that a planning application has been made for an offshore windfarm 50 miles east of Peterhead in north east Scotland. It will consist of 35 wind turbines which will be 866ft high. It won't be the only windfarm directly under the Helicopter Route Structure to offshore rigs and platforms. It's just as well modern helicopters are capable of flight in some icing conditions as in days of yore when we all scrabbled around at 500-1000ft to avoid icing conditions the proximity of these windfarms would surely have led to an incident.
Was that about en route to the Forties C16? Frightening!

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Re: North Sea Ops and Wind Turbines

#4 Post by CharlieOneSix » Mon Nov 13, 2023 10:54 pm

Yes, that would be very close to the Forties track...
HMRNNS.jpg
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EDIT: Just found a map of the location which makes things clearer. It's not on the Forties track, but is on the Tartan A/Claymore/Piper B/Scott track...116 sq.km. in size.
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Re: North Sea Ops and Wind Turbines

#5 Post by FD2 » Tue Nov 14, 2023 1:15 am

Thanks C16.

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Re: North Sea Ops and Wind Turbines

#6 Post by Smeagol » Sat Nov 18, 2023 7:22 pm

FD2, I must comment on your statement:

"Those were the first flights out of North Denes since we had moved to Norwich and in the meantime Scroby Sands, formerly the peaceful resting place of lots of seals, had been 'developed' with a wind farm."

Scroby windfarm is not built on the sandbanks inhabited by the seals, there are still hundreds of the smelly things out there! I have been on the turbines at Scroby and also close to the sandbanks with the seals long after the turbines were installed. The turbines were installed in areas which are always 'in the sea' and not on sandbanks.The turbines are actually several kilometers from the beach and a maximum of 150m tall from sea level to topmost blade extent. Would that really be an issue for operations from North Denes (if they were ever to return)?
One of the turbines recently caught fire, still standing with the nacelle looking rather blackened. I assume that it will have to be removed at some time as the tower is likely to be structurally weakened by the intense heat.

I live less than a mile from North Denes and used to fly out to many platforms from there in the Bristow and later days.
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Re: North Sea Ops and Wind Turbines

#7 Post by FD2 » Sat Nov 18, 2023 7:49 pm

Which platforms/rigs did you work from? I probably carried you on occasions. Did they plan the wind farm to avoid the seals' sandy area - they must have had a motive for putting them in the sea? No doubt they would move back again anyway once the construction had finished. As I said -they are mini mills compared to the ones C16 mentioned and though not close enough to Denes to influence visual flying - just alarming on the first visit back there for me for several years - they would certainly, at 500 feet, affect IMC approaches to the westerly 'runway' and affect any work IMC within several miles of the 'airfield' offshore. I'm glad the smelly fish gobblers are now undisturbed in their snoozing place.

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Re: North Sea Ops and Wind Turbines

#8 Post by Smeagol » Sat Nov 18, 2023 8:06 pm

Initially I was involved with the construction and installation of Amoco's 23A compression platform and later the demanning of almost all the Amoco platforms in the Inde field over several years. Did post Piper Alpha mods on Arco Thames platform and mods to all the Phillips, Hewett platforms. Those are just the ones I remember as the companies I worked for carried out mods to many SNS platforms for all the major operators.
My next door neighbour here for a few years was a Bristow pilot, sadly now in a home with severe dementia.

As for offshore windfarm construction, I spent the last 10 years of my working life involved in that. All are installed from vessels so need water to sail on! Scroby IS built on sandbanks but not an area that gets exposed at low tide. That last installation I was involved with was as Foundation Package Manager for Gwynt y Mor where the monopiles were installed by the Stanislav Yudin, a crane ship with a 3000 tonne lifting capacity crane on it. Need a bit of sea depth for that one!
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Re: North Sea Ops and Wind Turbines

#9 Post by FD2 » Sat Nov 18, 2023 9:19 pm

Bristow had the Amoco and Arco contracts in the SNS until someone senior from Shell Aviation suggested that Bristow could handle ALL the Shell North Sea work from Aberdeen, North Denes and Den Helder. I was in KLM Helicopters at the time and we could only manage to cover the work from Den Helder and Norwich, so we lost the Shell contract and most of us transferred to Bristow. That was after KLM had taken the work from BAH/BIH at Beccles three years earlier. To say that things were stressed would be an understatement - it was done on a shoestring budget and a chum described it as being as disorganised as Napoleon's retreat from Moscow! Eventually the company invested some money into the setup and the customer service improved.

It was a major factor though in losing other contracts because aircraft were unofficially pooled and when one went u/s at Norwich for Shell, an Arco or Amoco aircraft was flown over from Denes to Norwich while the broken one was fixed, so to get around that Amoco often used to fly us out to the 23A first thing and shut us down for the day so Shell couldn't get their hands on the aircraft! They rightly felt that if they had paid for an aircraft they should have it available 24/7. I think we finally moved out of North Denes about spring 2000 and operated from Norwich.

Those big crane barges were certainly huge - they didn't hang around either as one day we would do a flight to the Inde or Leman Fields and lift men to or from one of the NUIs and a day later there would be a gap there! Interesting days and all shrunk to not much nowadays after all that gas saved the bacon for politicians!

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Re: North Sea Ops and Wind Turbines

#10 Post by Smeagol » Sat Nov 25, 2023 10:51 pm

FD2
I am sure that you were my 'driver' on occasion as in the 23A installation days I was a very frequent passenger. I certainly remember Amoco having 3 contracted helicopters and flights were no problem. That was certainly not the case in later years when seats on the few available flights were at a premium and could never be guaranteed. How times change.

On your last point, crane barges are certainly big beasts, one of my last positions was as Foundation Package Manager for the construction of Gwynt y Mor windfarm. The monopiles and transition pieces were installed by the Stanislav Yudin, a crane ship with a 3000T crane on it. We installed 800T monopiles and only used the auxiliary block on the crane, did not need the main block. I spent a few days on the vessel to cover when my offshore reps dis not quite overlap. The Yudin is by no means particularly large anymore, I believe there are vessels with 12,000T plus lifting capacity now!
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Re: North Sea Ops and Wind Turbines

#11 Post by CharlieOneSix » Sat Nov 25, 2023 11:08 pm

My only experience of crane barges were Hermod and Balder back in the 80s. My first trip was to Hermod on a dirty wet night from Schiphol. The cranes were raised and lit and it looked like a small village. I remember thinking where the hell was the helipad - it was on the far side away from my approach. I see Hermod has been scrapped. It would be small fry compared with a 12,000T lifting capacity!
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Re: North Sea Ops and Wind Turbines

#12 Post by FD2 » Sat Nov 25, 2023 11:33 pm

The story back in KLMH UK days was that old man Heerema had placed a contract with a Japanese yard for the first (Balder) and then forced another deal through at such a low rate that he got the second (Hermod), at a real knock down rate. Hard bargainers the Dutch... Decommissioning the smaller southern gas platforms was quick work compared with the big oil jobs up north.

Heerema Marine Contractors was formed in 1948 by Pieter Schelte Heerema as a small construction company providing oilfield platforms in Venezuela. In the 1960s the company focused on the North Sea offshore developments. The company developed crane vessels to lift large offshore platforms and modules.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heerema_M ... ontractors

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