SMD Deliver Deep Sea Mining Vehicles

November 3, 2016

February 2016: This week marks a significant milestone for subsea engineering company SMD as the MV Happy Delta, loaded with the world’s first deep sea mining vehicles, leaves the port of Tyne.

In late 2007 SMD was awarded with a contract to design and build the world’s first deep sea mining vehicles for Canadian listed company Nautilus Minerals. Eight years on, having worked in close partnership with the customer, this massive feat of engineering is complete. The SPTs and associated equipment, totalling over 1000 Tonnes, have now been loaded onto the vessel which has set sail for Duqm Port in Oman where they will undergo further testing.

As well as the three mining machines or Seafloor Production Tools (SPTs), SMD designed and manufactured the full spread equipment required to remotely operate, launch and recover the SPTs from the deck of the ship onto which they will be installed in 2017.

SMD conducted rigorous commissioning and factory acceptance testing on the full spread of equipment in dry conditions on land at their production facility in Wallsend, North East England prior to shipping. The SPTs will now undergo extensive wet testing at the port facility in Oman which is designed to provide a submerged demonstration of the fully assembled SPTs, prior to commencement of the first mining operations in 2018.

The load out operation took place at Swans, an advanced manufacturing site being developed next to SMD’s site on the banks of the River Tyne. It was the first operation of its kind to take place at Swans’ recently dredged 9m-deep quay.

SMD CEO Andrew Hodgson commented “It is a fantastic achievement for SMD to deliver another engineering world first project. Our engineers have taken proven technology which we have developed over forty years, and adapted it for a new application to suit Nautilus’ needs, and we’re very proud of that.

“We thrive on using our problem solving skills to help our customers make the impossible possible and we’re delighted to have been involved in what stands to be a game-changing project facilitating birth of a new industry.”

Nautilus’ CEO Mike Johnston commented “Nautilus’ approach in building the world’s first seafloor mine was to seek out world class partners, leaders in their respective fields, and SMD’s unparalleled leadership in the design and manufacture of remotely operated vehicles operating in the earth’s harshest environments certainly reaffirms the validity of that strategy.”

“SMD’s engineering design and manufacture of our seafloor production tools is simply second to none; we thank them for their invaluable partnership and their determined leadership in building these impressive machines, and we look forward to seeing them in action on the seafloor once our project at Solwara 1 is in production in 2018.”

Patrick Melia, Chief Executive of North Tyneside Council which owns Swans, said: “We are delighted that world-leading projects like this are being delivered at Swans.

“Our state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing facilities being developed at Swans and other sites make North Tyneside one of the best places to do business, and we’re thrilled to be helping those in the marine, energy and offshore industries to compete in a global market.”

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SMD to Contribute to Offshore Wind Foundations Research Project

November 2, 2016

September 2015: SMD are pleased to announce that they are set to contribute to a major offshore wind research project lead by The University of Dundee. The project will look to determine whether cheaper, more environmentally friendly and more effective foundations can be developed for the offshore renewables industry.

The project, funded by a £1million grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, will look at the use of screw piles for offshore installations. These are foundations which are screwed into the ground and currently widely used onshore, for example, to support motorway signs and gantries.

Currently, the main foundation solutions being considered for offshore wind installations are driven piles, large monopiles or concrete gravity-based structures (GBS). Driving of piles in large numbers offshore causes concerns over plant availability and impact on mariScrew fas e mammals. There are also concerns over the limit of practical monopile development and the high material demands of GBS. Screw piles have the potential to overcome these issues and are scalable for future development from current onshore systems which have relatively low noise installation and are efficient in terms of both tensile and compressive capacity.

The research has the potential to make it easier to deploy screw pile foundations for offshore renewables. This project will develop foundations able to deal with current water depths and will provide understanding of the behaviour of piles as water depths and the demands on the foundations increase.

“The UK has challenging targets for expansion of energy from renewables with the potential for over 5000 offshore wind turbines by 2020,” said Dr Mike Brown, Senior Lecturer in Civil Engineering at the University of Dundee who is leading the project.

“The necessary move to deeper water will increase cost and put greater demands on subsea structures and foundations. There is already cost pressure on the offshore sector as people wait to see if it can be made more affordable, so we really need to find better solutions for how we develop capacity.

“Screw piles are potentially very attractive as a lower cost and more environmentally friendly option. However, there are significant challenges to be addressed. If we are to develop them for offshore use they will likely be larger than those used onshore, and face different pressures, so our work will look at whether they can meet the performance and efficiency issues.

“By harnessing the installation and performance benefits of screw pile/anchor technology, the results of the project will hopefully contribute to an overall cost reduction in electricity generated by renewable means and increase the public’s confidence in the future viability of this energy source,” said Dr Brown.

“We have a long-history of supporting industrial academic partnerships, said SMD’s Ian Bryan, Business Development Manager for their Trenching, Mining and Renewables business unit.  “Much of intellectual property and many of our product features originate from research, and our customers benefit from the insights these bring into design of efficient and effective solutions. When compared to piling, screw piles offers significant potential benefits such as a reduction in noise during installation and lower costs. We look forward to developing an understanding of how this well proven approach can be adapted at scale for use in the construction of offshore wind farms, and to passing the associated benefits on to our customers.”

The project will also include contributions from the Universities of Durham and Southampton and also private sector partners Cathie Associates Ltd, Screwfast Foundations Ltd, and SeaRoc Group.

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