Dismantling begins on 25,000-tonne ship

Decommissioning specialist AF Offshore Decom (AF Decom)- part of contracting and industrial company AF Gruppen - has begun what is said to be “the largest recycling operation” of a commercial ship ever undertaken in Norway.

The Curlew being loaded in at AF Gruppen's facilities The largest recycling operation of a production vessel (FPSO) in Norway has begun. The 235-metre-long Curlew was offloaded at a quayside in Rogaland for the start of cleaning, dismantling and recycling works. (Photo: AF Gruppen/Woldcam)

The vessel, named the Curlew FPSO, is a 235-metre-long ship that was previously used by Shell UK for the production of oil and gas from the Curlew field in the North Sea.

AF Decom was awarded the decommissioning contract through a tender process. The scope of works includes all engineering, preparatory tasks, cleaning, and dismantling works, with the company also planning to recycle a minimum of 97% of the vessel, which originally weighed in excess of 25,000 t. 

While preparations for the Curlew’s dismantling have been ongoing since 2020 - and have seen the removal of over 4,000 t of its components and structural materials, the ship was only recently transported ashore in Rogaland municipality, on the country’s southwest coast. 

AF Decom completed a single-lift operation to bring the ship, now weighing 21,000 t, on land just this week at the specialist AF Environmental Base Vats facility.

“The chosen decommissioning solution, known as a float-over-float in operation, has never been used on such a large scale anywhere in the world,” said AF Gruppen.

With the hull of the Curlew now situated on the quayside at AF Environmental Base Vats, AF Decom has started its cleaning, dismantling and recycling operations, which are expected to continue throughout 2023.

Lars Myhre Hjelmeset, Executive Vice President for Offshore in AF Gruppen, said: “This is a very complex logistics project with significant marine operations. We are proud that we can carry out such complicated operations in a safe and environmentally sound manner.” 

“We have considerable experience in recovering offshore installations and floating production vessels is another area where our expertise and approach is both relevant and internationally recognized.

Lars added: “Complex operations like this show that Norwegian offshore and engineering expertise helps set the standard for safe and environmentally sound solutions.”

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