The North Sea can challenge even the most seasoned of seafarers. When weather and the sea are involved, a “straight forward – in theory” project has the potential to become complicated. So, at times like these, there’s no substitute for experience and focus on quality and safety is paramount.
This was especially true on a recent project we were part of; a flagship carbon capture and storage project in the UK spearheaded by Genesis Energies.
Genesis Energies is a market-leading consultancy company with extensive global experience in developing innovative solutions across the hydrocarbon, renewables and alternative energy sectors. In August 2022, Lankelma were selected to be part of a groundbreaking project with the Northern Endurance Partnership (NEP), the driving force behind the ambitious East Coast Cluster initiative. This landmark project aims to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from industrial facilities in Teesside and Humberside, transporting them for safe and permanent storage in an offshore storage area in the North Sea called ‘Endurance’.
Specifically, Lankelma were contracted to test two sites where subsea feed pipes from the storage facility meet the land. The data collected will help to inform the groundworks and installation for the 28” pipes carrying the carbon to the storage area. The project was split into two phases, Humberside and Teesside where Lankelma commenced nearshore drilling at Humberside from October 2022.
Although the overall project appeared to be relatively straight forward, at that time of year, location and some of the existing infrastructure along the coastlines of Humberside and Teesside (Redcar) presented some challenges. For example, the North Sea is renowned for its turbulent weather, with strong winds and swells posing a constant threat to both equipment and personnel. Lankelma needed to implement strict safety protocols and remain adaptable to ensure the safe and efficient completion of the ground investigation project.
To ensure a smooth and successful ground investigation, Lankelma were tasked to provide geophysical surveys, onshore drilling with various in-situ testing and nearshore drilling at Humberside and Teesside.
To perform nearshore drilling and testing, the Sandpiper Jack-up was deployed. Four boreholes were required along the proposed pipeline route at Humberside and similarly, five boreholes at Teesside. All boreholes and associated grab sampling were required to collect valuable samples and in-situ data up to forty-five metres below seabed.
The second phase of the project at Teesside, namely Redcar, presented its own set of challenges. The Redcar coastline is also already home to a complex network of subsea cables and high-pressure gas pipelines. This intricate web of infrastructure meant that careful planning and precise execution was required to avoid any potential damage during the drilling. To accommodate this, regular communication was maintained with all third party stakeholders prior to any boreholes being drilled.
Certain borehole locations were located near and within the surf zone along the Redcar coast, presenting a unique challenge to position the Sandpiper in waters of just 60cm. Operating at the limits of the Sandpiper’s capabilities, the team had to exercise extreme caution to avoid grounding. To overcome this, strategic use of tides, extensive marine experience and a well-equipped support tug were used to position the jack up precisely on location as intended. This careful planning and meticulous execution was essential to avoid compromising the integrity of the jack up or the accuracy of the collected data.
Samples were meticulously collected from each test site and subsequently analysed in one of our subcontracted and specialised labs. This comprehensive approach ensured that only accurate and reliable data was collected, a crucial factor for informing the Client’s decisions.
Despite these challenges, Lankelma successfully completed the seabed testing, providing required to begin laying the groundwork for the East Coast Cluster’s carbon capture and storage pipelines. This critical step enabled Genesis Energies to progress the design phase of the project.
Here’s what Kate Lilley, the Project Manager at Genesis Engineering had to say about the experience…
“Lankelma worked collaboratively with the NEP project to perform nearshore survey works at a challenging time of year in the North Sea. They were open and proactive in communication allowing us to make decisions in real time so as to maximise results. Lankelma’s site team were efficient when performing activities on site and reporting was provided in a timely manner and fulfilled requirements of the specified scope.”
If you’re interested in finding out more about our nearshore capabilities, get in touch with our Nearshore Manager, Dave Portsmouth.