UAE: RAK Petroleum Orders First Wave Piercer Vessel for Offshore Platform Service in Gulf


RAK Petroleum Public Company Limited has chartered the first Topaz Wave Piercer for use in the Gulf, the Company announced today. Designed by Incat Holdings Limited of Australia and built by Topaz Marine based in Dubai, the long-term charter vessel will be used for production crews commuting to and from the Company’s offshore Oman platforms.

“The use of a fast, stable and fuel-efficient crew vessel will significantly reduce our transportation operating costs and provide more safety for our crew as they commute from Ras Al Khaimah to our platforms in the Strait of Hormuz,” said Michel Pick, Group Technical Director of RAK Petroleum.

“Working closely with Topaz for monthly servicing, we will also improve the in-port turnaround down time,” he added.

RAK Petroleum will call the vessel ‘Topaz Zenith’ and expects to take delivery in April 2011. At 24.0 meters long, this high speed crew vessel will be water jet propelled and feature several innovative features being seen in the Gulf region for the first time. The most significant of these is the super stable wave piercing catamaran hull design that provides a smoother passage in high sea swells than comparable mono-hulled vessels. This helps to provide comfort to the crew and stability for work at sea for up to 40 crew members.

The Wave Piercer feature combined with the waterjet power package is believed to be the first of its type in the world servicing oil and gas offshore platforms.

The twin-engined Caterpillar driven craft is combined with two Hamilton waterjet propulsion units which will power the vessel at speeds approaching 35 knots; sufficient speed to allow RAK Petroleum to carry out two platform inspection and operational visits per day to its West Bukha platform that would have previously required two separate vessels to undertake. The Wave Piercer is also more fuel efficient, as consumption will be the same at 32 knots as RAK Petroleum achieved with a screw- driven vessel steaming at 20 knots. In addition, the vessel will provide high maneuverability: from full speed the waterjet can be turned around 180 degrees within its own length or be brought to a complete stop.

The bow design will allow front on-platform disembarkment, with the vessel held securely into a V-notch style docking station that allows the vessel to rise and fall with the sea swell, making it safer for crew and passengers during transfer. This docking station also provides for improved platform evacuation in the event of an emergency.

The vessel is of aluminum construction and weighs 30.5 tons deadweight and up to 90 tons when loaded with cargo, passengers, and a 6.5 meter container carrying the emergency oil leak response equipment. The navigation and radar aids and passenger entertainment are of the latest specification and a particular service feature of the design is the speed by which both the engines and the waterjet pack can be removed and replaced. Topaz will retain one spare engine and jet set in their warehouse and in the event of down time they can replace the engine and jet pack inside four to six hours without needing to dry dock the vessel.

Safety features specified by RAK Petroleum for installed equipment includes bridge controlled fire-fighting monitors, H2S sour gas sensors, a Dacon “man overboard” scoop, remotely operated searchlights and a 360-degree bridge for all round visibility; additionally, the lack of propellers removes risk to divers or marine wildlife.

Source: Rak Petroleum, November  1, 2010;

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