Walk-to-Work vessel Kasteelborg in service

The Royal Couple, the Kroonborg and the Kasteelborg

Wagenborg Offshore signed a six-year contract with Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (NAM) and SHELL UK Exploration & Production (Shell UK) for the delivery of a second Walk-to-Work vessel. NAM and Shell UK have set up a joint business unit to work on gas production in the southern sector of the North Sea. The second vessel will support their offshore activities there. The six-year contract was signed on 13 November 2017 by the partner companies’ managing directors. The Walk-to-Work Emergency Response and Rescue Vessel (W2W ERRV) will be deployed as a stand-by and support vessel for the inspection and maintenance of unmanned platforms in both Dutch and British waters. Christened “the Kasteelborg”, the vessel has now been put into service.

Wagenborg chooses PX121 Ulstein design

NAM, Shell, Wagenborg and the Norwegian shipyard Ulstein signed a contract for the delivery of a standard PX121 Platform Supply Vessel (PSV). The PSV was built according to the Ulstein Accommodation Standard and has received excellent feedback from the offshore industry thanks to a favourable combination of fuel efficiency and deadweight tonnage. This makes it perfectly suited for conversion to a Walk-to-Work Emergency Response and Rescue vessel without compromising its excellent Dynamic Positioning performance. 

Captain Michel den Hartog navigated the Kasteelborg from Norway to Delfzijl in late December for the conversion: “The vessel’s construction and finish make it a ship to be proud of. Its performance at sea was very good. I went along to Norway to take receipt of the vessel and navigate it to Delfzijl. And I have to say that I’m very impressed. I’ve seen many a vessel, but this one really has a lot of potential.” 

Economic boost for the northern Netherlands

About eighty employees at Dutch shipyard Royal Niestern Sander in Delfzijl worked on converting the PSV to a W2W ERRV. To comply with NAM and Shell’s requirements, they fitted the Kasteelborg with an additional accommodation module and a motion-compensated gangway and crane. Royal Niestern Sander took 16  weeks to convert the Kasteelborg and the vessel was delivered to Wagenborg Offshore in early March 2018.

“I’ve seen many a vessel, but this one really has a lot of potential.”

Producing natural gas offshore

By deciding to produce natural gas offshore, NAM and Shell UK took on a number of major challenges: how to execute offshore operations as safely and efficiently as possible, and how to improve offshore maintenance activities so as to reduce costs. Modern offshore production platforms are smaller and usually unmanned and without a helicopter pad, creating a need for Walk-to-Work vessels. Walk-to-Work vessels provide safer and more efficient, effective and productive support for offshore activities, as the successful Walk-to-Work vessel Kroonborg has already demonstrated. The new Walk-to-Work vessel will work similarly to the Kroonborg, but it also has ERRV functionalities.

What’s ERRV?

ERRV stands for Emergency Response and Rescue Vessel. This means that the Kasteelborg can be deployed in emergencies on NAM and Shell UK’s manned and unmanned platforms, for example rescue operations, stand-by activities, emergency towage or patrol duties. The vessel has extra crew facilities, such as a sick bay, guest rooms, a disinfection room, a recovery room and extra sanitary facilities. To ensure that the Kasteelborg can perform its ERRV tasks properly as a DP2 vessel, it has been fitted with Azimuth thrusters for excellent manoeuvrability. It has also been equipped with both a daughter craft and a fast rescue boat that can operate in poor weather.

The Royal Couple, the Kroonborg and the Kasteelborg

The Kasteelborg and the Kroonborg will carry out maintenance on the dozens of unmanned platforms that NAM and Shell UK operate in the southern sector of the North Sea. The original intention was to have the Kroonborg carry out all the major maintenance work. In reality, however, the vessel was often sent to other platforms for unplanned interventions, making it impossible to plan maintenance work far in advance. The Kasteelborg will therefore join the Kroonborg in performing these ad-hoc jobs. The partnership between the Kroonborg and the Kasteelborg is a unique in the offshore maintenance world.