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OTC 19218

ACG Jackets Design and Fabrication

Richard T. Ciezarek, Kellogg Brown and Root Energy and Chemicals; Archie M. Cormack and Allan D. Penman,
BP Exploration (Caspian Sea) Ltd; Richard Mackie, BOS Shelf; and Geoff Tate, Kellogg Brown & Root Overseas
Operations Ltd.

Copyright 2008, Offshore Technology Conference

This paper was prepared for presentation at the 2008 Offshore Technology Conference held in Houston, Texas, U.S.A., 58 May 2008.
This paper was selected for presentation by an OTC program committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents of the paper have not been
reviewed by the Offshore Technology Conference and are subject to correction by the author(s). The material does not necessarily reflect any position of the Offshore Technology Conference, its
officers, or members. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this paper without the written consent of the Offshore Technology Conference is prohibited. Permission to
reproduce in print is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words; illustrations may not be copied. The abstract must contain conspicuous acknowledgment of OTC copyright.

The ACG field is located in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea approximately 130 km east of Baku, in water depths
varying between 118m and 176m.
As part of the ACG Full Field Development (FFD) (see Figure 1), six barge launched jackets suitable for floatover topsides,
plus associated drilling templates and foundation piles were designed and fabricated. Jacket loadout weights varied between
13,200 te and 16,700 te and the total pile weight, for all six structures, was approximately 44,000 te. Each jacket structure
supports operating topsides weights of between 18,000 te and 24,000 te.
This paper explains the development of jacket design and fabrication capability in Baku. It also highlights the production line
approach to the design and fabrication of the jackets and the challenges that were overcome to successfully deliver this part
of the ACG FFD project in Azerbaijan.
The information will be of interest and value to those who face similar challenges in newly emerging energy markets and
need to build up design or fabrication capability in other countries. It may also be helpful to those considering a production
line approach to design and fabrication in order to optimise the delivery of major projects.
The detailed design for all six jackets was completed in London and Baku between September 2001 and September 2006;
this was followed by post design support to both the fabricator and installation contractor. Key drivers for the size, weight
and configuration of the jackets, templates and foundation piles are explained in this paper.
Construction of the jackets was executed in Baku between March 2002 and May 2007. The execution strategy for this work
is explained with details of in-country upgrades of the fabrication yard, training of local personnel, fabrication schedules,
specifications of steel, in-country rolling and erection roll up methods. The benefits of a production line of jackets are given
in terms of procurement and logistics, re-use of construction and installation aids, lessons learned and the reduction in site
queries, all leading to continuous improvement in productivity and schedule.

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The six ACG platforms (in order of installation) are referred to as CA-PDQ, CA-CWP (Phase 1), WA-PDQ, EA-PDQ (Phase
2) and DWG-PUQ, DWG-PCWU (Phase 3) (see Table 1);


Jacket Name




Central Azeri


Central Azeri


West Azeri


East Azeri


Deep Water Gunashli

Drilling, Utilities, Quarters.



Deep Water Gunashli

Production, Compression,
Water Injection, Utilities.


Production, Drilling,
Compression, Water
Injection, Production.
Production, Drilling,
Production, Drilling,


Table 1: Summary Table of Jackets.

The key feature of these fixed steel jackets are the tower configurations at the top of the jacket (see Figure 2), which enabled
the floatover of a fully integrated deck, thus minimising the topsides hook-up and offshore commissioning program.

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Figure 2: Basic Jacket Configuration (DWG-DUQ).

The jackets designs were influenced by the following in-country considerations:

The use of the only available transportation and launch barge STB-1. For jacket installations the maximum barge
capacity was circa 18,000 te.
The Derrick Barge Azerbaijan (DBA) heavy lift capacity introduced some constraints into the design, i.e. 1250 te at
a lifting radius of 50 meters.
Rolling capabilities at the jacket fabrication yard i.e. leg and brace diameter and wall thickness (d/t) ratios became
Stress relieving facilities were not available, so elimination of Post Weld Heat Treatment (PWHT) on primary leg
joints was imperative. A full fracture mechanics assessment was carried out for all six structures.

Table 2 below, provides ACG FFD Jacket Design, Construction and Installation data.
Jacket Heading (True/Grid in degs)







344.27 / 344.05

344.08 / 343.85

342.77 / 342.57

342.43 / 342.14

342.50 / 342.27

342.50 / 342.27

Jacket Launch Weight [tonnes]







Jacket In-place Weight [tonnes]







NTE Launch Weight [tonnes]







Jacket Buoyancy [tonnes]







Reserve Buoyancy Ratio (to gross)







32.0 (N-S) x 73.0 (E-W)

32.0 (N-S) x 73.0 (E-W)

32.0 (N-S) x 73.0 (E-W)

32.0 (N-S) x 73.0 (E-W)

32.0 (N-S) x 73.0 (E-W)

32.0 (N-S) x 73.0 (E-W)

70.0 / 73.0 x 90.0

Top of Jacket Dimension [m]

54.0 / 57.0 x 73.0

54.0 / 57.0 x 73.0

51.9 / 54.0 x 73.0

58.8 / 61.8 x 73.0

70.0 / 73.0 x 90.0

Nominal Water Depth [m]







Top of Jacket Elevation [m]







Bottom of Jacket Dimension [m]

Bottom of Jacket Elevation [m]

-128.45 / -128.2

-130.1 / -129

-118.9 / -118.2




Total Height of Jacket [m]

142.6 (average)

143.9 (average)

132.9 (average)










Float Through Gap Between Legs (m)

Leg Diameter (m)
Number of Horizontal Plan Levels
Corner Leg Batter

Single Batter

Single Batter

Single Batter

Single Batter

Double Batter

Double Batter







Number of Conductor Slots





Number of Caissons

Number of J-tubes

Number of Risers


5 + 1 spare

6 + 1 spare


6 + 1 future



Installation Method



Cluster of 3 at Corner Legs

Cluster of 3 at Corner Legs













Cluster of 3 at Corner Legs

Cluster of 3 at Corner Legs

Pile Weight Total [tonnes]




Pile Average Length [m]




Pile Average Penetration [m]



Number of Permanent Foundation Piles

Pile Location

Jacket and Pile Detailed Design Period

Jacket and Pile Fabrication Period
Jacket and Pile Installtion Period

Cluster of 4 at Corner Legs Cluster of 3 at Corner Legs

SEPT 2001 TO AUG 2003

JULY 2002 TO AUG 2003

OCT 2002 TO SEPT 2003

APRIL 2003 TO MAY 2004

JUNE 2004 TO MAY 2005

JULY 2004 TO SEPT 2005

MARCH 2002 TO DEC 2003

NOV 2002 TO JULY 2004

FEB 2003 TO APRIL 2005

DEC 2003 TO NOV 2005

NOV 2004 TO SEPT 2006

MAY 2005 TO MAY 2007

MARCH 2004


MAY 2005

MARCH 2006

APRIL 2007

MAY 2007


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General Design Topics.

Design Philosophy:
The detailed design of the six ACG jackets was carried out consecutively but with some overlap in schedule. This sequence
led to several benefits:

Synergy (copy-over), which led to design cost savings.

Initial Site Engineering Queries (SEQ) raised were incorporated into the subsequent jackets, providing a benefit to
the fabricator. Table 3 below, illustrates the reduction in SEQ numbers for each jacket.









Table 3: Jackets SEQ History.

Any material shortfalls were met by using contingency stocks across the jackets.
Lessons learned during fabrication and installations of the early jackets were incorporated into subsequent designs
providing a benefit to the fabricator and installation contractors, i.e. continuous improvement was real and

The following codes and standards were used to design the jackets:

API RP2A-LRFD Recommended Practice for Planning, Designing and Constructing Fixed Offshore Platforms.
Load and Resistance Factor Design, First Edition 1993.
AISC Specification for Design, Fabrication and Erection of Structural Steel for Buildings. American Institute of
Steel Construction, Chicago, 9th Edition.
AISC Specification for Load and Resistance Factor Design, for Structural Steel Buildings. American Institute of
Steel Construction, Chicago, 2nd Edition.
HSE Offshore Installations: Guidance on Design Construction and Certification, 4th Edition, Amendment No. 3.

The structural concepts for the jacket configurations were traditional using a combination of up to date practices, reference to
previous North Sea jacket designs and reflecting specific aspects of the Caspian Sea environment.
For the jacket dynamic response, the average natural period of the jackets was 4.2 sec, well below the wave periods
experienced in the Caspian. Transportation sea states up to Hs = 5m/s and Tp = 10 seconds were used for the design.
The ACG FFD fields are located in an active seismic region. Each platform was checked for both Strength Level Earthquake
(SLE) and Ductility Level Earthquake (DLE). The SLE results demonstrated that little or no damage occurs during relatively
frequent seismic activity at the site. For earthquakes with longer return periods (DLE events) global failure mechanisms
(which can lead to high consequences such as loss of life or major environmental damage) have been catered for in the
The design of the CA-PDQ, CA-CWP, EA-PDQ and DWG-PCWU jackets were completed in Baku, while WA-PDQ and
DWG-DUQ jackets were completed in London. The majority of the engineering and drafting personnel in Baku were locally
employed. Before and during the first jacket design a training program for the design practices and the use of software was

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established. Supervision for the training and the subsequent design was provided by expatriate engineers. As the project
moved forward the local engineers and draftsman became more independent and required less supervision. The design
personnel based in Baku had a big advantage which was that frequent trips to the jacket fabrication yard were easily
available. During these trips there was interaction with both the client and fabricators construction managers, this gave
everyone the opportunity for two-way feedback on the design and fabrication aspects.
As a result of the cooperation and excellent relationship between the design and fabrication contractors, and with full support
from the client, a program was set up that allowed up to twelve of the designers young graduates to be seconded to the jacket
fabricator during the period from May 2003 to June 2007. Each was based on site for a minimum of 6 months, primarily
working in the methods temporary works department. The graduates worked under the supervision of the fabricator where
they gained invaluable construction experience.
Structural Framing:
Jacket geometry and framing was driven primarily by the requirement to have two towers for topside floatover (see Figure 2).
The jacket launch leg spacings were all 28m. This matched the launch rails on the STB-1 barge and the existing onshore
skidway on which the jackets were constructed.
The drilling jackets accommodated centre bay drilling. The enlarged base dimensions and the mudmats improved the jacket
unpiled stability. The water depth for the Phase 3 jackets drove the main outer legs to be double battered in order to increase
the base area. For Phases 1 and 2 the jacket outer legs were single battered.
A significant design effort was expended in order to optimize the jacket seafastening in relation to the existing STB-1 barge
furniture. Across all the jackets it was possible to maintain a similar transportation design which resulted in most cases in the
use of the same sea fastening interface positions along the STB-1.
After jacket installation, Deck Mating Receptacles (DMR) were fitted inside the top of each of the eight legs. These devices
help dampen topside load transfer during deck to jacket mating.
The Phase 1 and 2 jackets featured traditional mudmats for on-bottom stability. However for Phase 3, driven by the
requirement for larger mudmats and hence the additional weight and wind loading these attracted, there were concerns
regarding the limitations of the marine tugs that would have been used during transportation to the offshore site. Therefore
the use of pin piles was adopted for the Phase 3 jackets in place of mudmats. The key feature of pin piles is that they offered
significant improvement to on-bottom stability of the jackets and allowed tighter tolerance on jacket verticality (+/- 0.1)
compared to +/- 0.5 when mudmats are used. This in turn had major benefits for the topsides and bridge, design, fabrication
and installations.
There are three other points of note:
No nodal fabrication was used on any of the jackets. The jacket fabricators preference was to adopt point-to-point
fabrication i.e. profiled tubulars were framed directly into the legs. Significant benefits came out of this such as
eliminating the need for closing welds.
Extra design work also eliminated overlapping joints (this also greatly benefited the fabricator).
Ring stiffening is inevitable on such large jackets. Early agreement on stiffener plate, weld sizing and type and
access again benefited the fabricator.
Figure 3 shows the jacket configuration for the DWG-PCWU jacket (representative of all six structures). Figure 4 shows
general details of a pile sleeve cluster, floatation tank and main piles.
Key Features and Areas:
Some aspects of the design did have special and unique features, and these plus other areas of significance are outlined
The Phase 1 and 2 jackets used four skirt pile grippers to increase their on-bottom stability for the time between the initial
piles being driven and the pile grouting operations concluding. The 96" grippers were delivered as fully assembled cans,
weighing 6.2 te each. One gripper can was welded within the pile sleeve cluster (one per cluster). Each gripper was capable
of sustaining a vertical shear load of 2,600 te, calculated to be the maximum that the 10 year storm could exert on each corner
of the jacket.

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The grippers were powered by a Hydraulic Power Unit (HPU) located at the top-of-jacket working platforms. The primary
means of actuating the grippers was via a stainless steel tube bundle routed through each of the jacket leg bulkheads and
terminating at a panel on the walkway at the top of the jackets. As a contingency, the grippers could also be activated sub-sea
by Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs).
The gripper concept was repeated for phase 3, but the gripper cans on this occasion were located at the base of the main
corner legs, on the north side only, to be used with the preinstalled pin piles.
Installation Systems:
After completion of fabrication, the jacket leg and flotation tank compartments were all pressurized to 0.5 barg (7 psig) to
confirm their integrity prior to loadout, during transportation and before and after launching at the offshore site. Monitoring
of the compartment leg and tank pressures and their flood and vent valves (i.e. open and closed positions) were achieved
using a remote radio transmitter SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system.
SCADA systems are typically used to perform data collection and this may be the first time that such a sophisticated system
has been used for jacket installation.
The hydraulically actuated opening and closing of the flood and vent valves was carried out from the Upend and Control
Centre (UCC) located at the top of jacket (see Figure 5).

Figure 5: Location of UCC.

The SCADA program ran on a laptop computer which, via a radio telemetry system, allowed remote monitoring of live data
up to 1km from the jacket. The operator accessed the same information inside the UCC. This allowed real time
communications between the UCC operators on the jacket and the installation supervisors located on the installation vessel
during the docking phase of the jackets.
Conductor Protection Net (CPN):
For the drilling platforms the CPN was designed to protect the 48 conductors during the 25 year platform life from impact by
a 5,000 te supply vessel approaching the platform at a velocity of 0.6 m/s. The CPN must arrest the vessel stopping it from
contacting the conductors by absorbing 1.0 MJ with a maximum deflection of 3.57m (11.7 ft). The net itself is 12 metres high
and straddles the water line thus ensuring that a supply vessel cannot get over or under the net in any allowable operational
sea states and water levels.
The CPN (see Figure 6) is made from high modulus Aramid (Kevlar 49) and consists of horizontal ropes anchored at one of
the tower jacket legs, which then spans across the platform slot passing round low friction 90 bend shoes mounted on the
adjacent tower, and up into the lower deck where the CPN tensioning equipment can be monitored and adjusted. Vertical tie
ropes join together the main ropes to ensure load sharing between adjacent main ropes and also to eliminate entanglement
issues with supply vessels that may be caused by part of a supply vessel passing between the main ropes.

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Figure 6: Typical CPN Installation.

Glass Reinforced Polymer (GRP) Mudmats:

Mudmats are large structures at the base of the jacket that provides the on-bottom stability required before piling and
commencement of grouting. GRP mudmats were used on Phases 1 and 2 (see Figure 7).
Conventional steel mudmats are heavy and require a large number of sacrificial anodes. To overcome both these issues the
project used the composite GRP material as an alternative to steel. This solution provided a significant advantage, as the GRP
mudmat panels are corrosion resistant and lightweight, making them beneficial to the fabricator and helping keep the overall
weight of the jacket down. A weight saving of approximately 400 te per jacket was gained using GRP panels.

Figure 7: GRP Mudmats General View.

The sizes of the GRP panels for these jackets were virtually identical. The same moulds were used by the supplier and the
same erection and assembly techniques were adopted by the fabricator, again emphasizing production line working
For Phase 3, mudmats were replaced by using pin piles to provide temporary foundations.
Steel Procurement:
The steels purchased for the jackets were in accordance with specifications BS EN 10225 (Weldable Structural Steels for
Fixed Offshore Structures) and BS EN 10025 (Hot Rolled Products of Structural Steel). All steel (in the form of flat plate)
was free-issued to the fabricator. The first three jackets consisted primarily of steel grade 350 EM and 350 EMZ (50 ksi),
however as the project moved into deeper water the launch weight of the three remaining jackets became a concern and
consequently higher steel grade 450 EM and 450 EMZ (65 ksi) was used to keep the weight of the structures down. The use
of higher grade steels added additional constraints to the rolling facilities in-country, but with careful planning and
interfacing with the jacket fabricator these were overcome during the jacket design.
The material take offs (MTO) were the responsibility of the design contractor. The MTOs were completed in several batches
per jacket (varying between 1,500 te to 5,000 te) in order to match the main build sequence of the jackets (Figures 8 and 9
highlight the batch ordering sequence). This strategy helped the German steel mills that supplied the plate, together with
logistics and storage at the fabrication yard once delivered.

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General Procurement:
In addition to steel, the other major equipment items such as the jacket installation ballast and grouting systems, and riser
materials were free issue to the jacket fabricator. All procurement was managed from the London office and truly was a
global affair. Material and equipment for the jackets, piles and templates was sourced from countries such as the UK,
Germany, Norway, Holland, Saudi Arabia and the USA.
Soil Characteristics:
Within the Caspian Sea, the ACG area is located on the Apsheron Ridge, a large anticlinal structure that stretches between
the Caucasus Mountains east to the Kopet Dag Mountains.
The soils in the ACG FFD area consist mainly of normally consolidated to under consolidated clays. The sea-bed topography
was highly irregular at some of the jacket locations, e.g. for the Phase 1 jackets CA-PDQ and CA-CWP the mudmats were set
at different levels to allow for the excessive sea-bed slope.
Foundations for all the jackets comprised of 12 piles with the exception of the WA-PDQ jacket where 16 piles have been
installed. The reason for the additional four piles at WA was the significantly poorer soil conditions encountered at this
Table 2 provides the weight, length and penetration of the permanent foundations piles.
Pre-drilling templates were used for each of the four drilling platforms and each was configured for 12 tie-back conductor
slots (see Figure 10). After installation and levelling they were fixed to the seabed by three support piles using a swage lock
system. The CA-PDQ, WA-PDQ and EA-PDQ templates also utilised two docking piles for positioning the jacket during its
installation over the template and to ensure alignment of the well tiebacks within the jacket conductor slots.

Figure 10: CA-PDQ Template.

The DWG-DUQ template was a similar configuration, but was installed without docking pile sleeves. Alignment of this
jacket during setdown was achieved by positioning over the four pre-installed pin piles.
Corrosion Protection:
The land-locked Caspian Sea possesses two particular characteristics that, for cathodic protection (CP) design purposes, sets
it apart from the open oceans. These are low salinity and the large seasonal changes in its surface and shallow depth
temperature; as a result delivery of sufficient anode output current to protect the jackets for their 25 year design life was a
significant challenge. This was achieved by coating the majority of the immersed surface area (85%) of the jackets with a
high performance (glass flake epoxy) coating system in order to reduce the current demand on the anodes.
There was a strong interaction between requirements for jacket design, fabrication and installation during all phases of ACG.
Although the jacket configurations, build-methods and installation philosophies remained recognizably constant throughout,
following the Projects production line strategy, there were a number of improvements as lessons were learned from early
installations, most notably developments in pile handling and the change to pin piles for Phase 3.
The jackets were all required to be installable throughout the year using the existing Caspian marine fleet. The requirement
for year-round installation involved designing the jackets to be installed in multiple, short weather windows to take best
advantage of periods of good weather. Therefore the jackets were designed to self-upend after launch, with the possibility for
subsequent wet-stow (with jackets floating vertically). If necessary, wet-stow could have been for prolonged periods in

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bad weather up to the 10 year all-year storm whilst waiting for the next good weather window. In the end all the jackets were
installed in the months between March and August inclusive over the years 2004 to 2007. The multiple window approach
was only used during the CA-PDQ jacket installation, with a successful three day wet stow between launch and docking.
Subsequent set-down and docking used hook-assistance in all cases with the static hook load limited to 735 te to suit the
DBA crane vessel. Hook-assistance gave best control of the operation, but the design made provision for ballasted set-down
as a contingency.
Two pairs of flotation tanks were designed and built, each being used on three jackets (see Figure 11). The first pair were
sized for the Phase 1 jackets (each weighed 650 te). The second pair were larger (each weighed 800 te), their size being
driven by the WA-PDQ jacket. This jacket was located in the shallowest water, so it had least buoyancy in the main frame
but was still comparatively heavy (e.g. with an extra pile sleeve per cluster). After removal from the jackets, the first pair of
tanks was gravity drained before being towed back to the fabrication yard for re-use. The second pair was on the limit for
gravity draining (this was only possible in calm conditions) and so they were fitted with a compressed-air dewatering system
which was used for two jackets. The two Phase 3 jackets were installed one after each other at the start of the 2007 season.
There was not enough time to return the tanks from the first jacket for re-use on the second without re-arranging the whole
seasons installation schedule. Hence, two pairs of tanks were essential to maintain an efficient program. It did mean
however, that the DWG-PCWU jacket was launched with a pair of tanks that were unnecessarily large. This was overcome
simply by allowing one compartment per tank to free-flood during launch and upending.

Figure 11: Typical Flotation Tank.

Installation aids such as rigging platforms, walkways and flotation tanks were all designed with diverless release
mechanisms. Their removal was achieved either by surface-operated means or with assistance from underwater Remote
Operated Vehicles (ROVs). For example, the slings were removed by hydraulic pin-releases (operated by hand-pumps from
the El. +8m walkways) and the flotation tanks were released via pull-wire mechanisms (powered by winches also at the El.
+8m level).
The biggest improvement occurred in the handling and installation of the main piles. The fundamentals remained the same
(i.e. wet tow to site followed by hook assisted upending and stabbing), but the details underwent considerable evolution. The
Phase 1 piles used upending trunnions welded to the main body of the pile which needed to be cut off before stabbing into the
pile sleeves. This complication was eliminated when the Installation Contractor developed an Openable External Lifting Tool
(OELT) which was successfully used for Phases 2 and 3 (see Figure 12).

Figure 12: Installation Contractor OELT.


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General Fabrication Topics.

Fabrication Philosophy:
Point-to-point bracing rather than nodal erection methodology was adopted. The main fabrication advantages of this method
Time and cost saving.
Utilization of CTOD (Crack Tip Opening Displacement) plates in substitution of heat treatment.
Single side welds for nodes.
More flexibility in assembly sequences; decrease of leg field welds; simplification of prefabrication works and
limitation of temporary bracings during the plan assembly.
Reduction of bracing adjustments at connection points and limitation of geometrical deviation.
Prefabrication of bracings and legs done completely in workshops introduced increased efficiency.
It was decided from the outset that the launch runner cradle would be utilized as a hinged support for rolling up the central
frames. This benefited the fabrication in several ways:
Best fitting and full contact of launch cradle onto skidway.
Reduction of temporary steel attachments on the launch runners.
Reduction of load eccentricity; i.e. better stability during roll-up.
Limitation of the skew effect during upending as contact between leg and cradle is only limited to stiffeners.
As a result of using the launch runner assemblies as a cradle for the roll-up of the central inner frames, the decision was made
not to paint the runners as heat dissipation during the welding of the leg to the runners, after roll-up, would cause
considerable damage to the paint work. It was not considered practical or efficient to paint in-situ, so to compensate for a
reduced area of coating, additional anodes were added in this area.
Fabrication was carried out to EEMUA 158 Construction Specification for Fixed Offshore Structures.
Construction Methodology: A legacy from the Soviet era is that all four skidways at the fabrication yard carried
unfinished jackets from the late 1980s. The project decided to build all six ACG jackets on one single skidway. Before any
assembly work could begin approx 8,500 te of existing jacket structures had to be safely dismantled and removed from
skidway number one. Two main reasons drove the decision to work with one skidway: The compressed delivery schedule
and to limit the cost of yard upgrades and refurbishment.
Each of the jackets was split into eight major sub-assemblies:
Two inner central frames (varying between 1,450 te to 3,600 te).
Two outer frames (varying between 2,900 te to 3,900 te).
Two towers (varying between 800 te to 900 te).
Two flotation tanks (650 te and 800 te each).
For schedule reasons it was necessary to assemble two jackets at any one time on the skidway.
The following construction flow was adopted:
Assemble and roll-up of the inner frames at the back section of the skidway First jacket.
Prepare outer frames at the front of the skidway First jacket.
Transfer by skidding (using the pushing system) the inner frames to the front of the skidway First jacket.
Assemble and roll-up of the outer frames at the front of the skidway First jacket.
Erect towers and flotation tanks First jacket.
Assemble and roll-up of the inner frames at the back section of the skidway Second jacket.
Load-out of the first jacket onto the STB-1 barge and seafasten.
Prepare the external frames at the front of skidway Second jacket.
Transfer by skidding (using the pushing system) the inner frames to the front of the skidway of the Second jacket.
Assemble and roll-up of the outer frames at the front of skidway Second jacket.
Erect towers and flotation tanks Second jacket.
Assemble and roll-up of the inner frames at the back section of the skidway Third jacket.
Load-out of the Second jacket onto the STB-1 barge and seafasten.
This production line of jacket fabrication continued for all six jackets.

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Figure 13 illustrates the typical erection sequence (steps 1 to 12) for one of the jackets (DWG-PCWU).
Figures 14 and 15 demonstrate the production line assembly. Figure 14 shows the completed WA-PDQ jacket ready for
loadout and the EA-PDQ jacket under assembly at the back of the skidway. Figure 15 shows the DWG-DUQ jacket on the
barge ready for installation and the DWG-PCWU jacket under final assembly.

Figure 14: EA-PDQ and WA-PDQ Jacket Assembly.

Figure 15: DWG-DUQ and DWG-PCWU Jacket Assembly.

One significant advantage of the production line approach was that the quantity of fabrication aids was kept to a minimum.
One single set of erection supports were manufactured and used for each of the jackets.
The frames were fully prefabricated at ground level and incorporated plan level elevations; piles sleeve clusters, and
appurtenances such as caissons, j-tubes and risers. Temporary attachments for scaffolding and walkways, for the latter stages
of the fabrication, were also added at this stage in the order to minimize the work at height thus increasing the level of safety.
GRP mud-mat panels, where possible, were also integrated into the frames at this stage.
The plan levels were prefabricated outdoors and upended and lifted using crawler cranes for integration onto the frames (see
Figure 16).

Figure 16: Plan Level Assembly.

Prior to each lift or roll-up operation a full clash analysis was carried out using 3-D models in order to guarantee that each
operation was carried out without problems.
In order to rationalize the construction process and maximize the automatic welding due to the large quantity of bracings to
be prefabricated, a fabrication flow was organized in the workshops: 3 meter long cans manufactured (rolling plant).
Prefabrication of tubes of 9 to 15 meters with varying wall thicknesses.
Brace profiling using automatic profiling machine type Muller RB950.
Indoor assembly and automatic butt-welding of bracings up to 60 meters long (50te).


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Blast and Paint before transfer to outdoor erection area.

In total there were 24 pile sleeve clusters. Based on difficult outdoor environmental conditions (frequent high winds, dusts,
rain and extreme temperatures) impacting the welding, the decision was taken to fabricate and assemble these units inside the
workshop bays (see Figure 17). This considerably increased productivity.

Figure 17: Pile Sleeve Cluster Assembly.

The main doors to the workshop were modified and enlarged thus allowing the units to be fully completed including the
grouting and gripper systems. These large units, weighing up to 460te, were moved to the skidway assembly area by means
of muti-axled trailers. The units were painted prior to their integration to the outer frames.
Major Lifts:
During jacket construction, 72 major multi-crane lifting operations were performed totaling approximately 96,000 te.
24 frame roll-ups, up to 170m long weighing between 1,450 te to 3,900 te, using five to nine crawler cranes and four to
ten winches, were carried out. Crane usage was limited to 80% of their capacity. All structural calculations for these lifts
were validated by the site based methods temporary works engineering department. Frame deflections were calculated
and imposed to transfer load to adjacent less loaded cranes. The winches controlled the latter stages of the roll-up as
well as to secure the entire frame before closure. Frame closure and any geometrical adjustment were carried out using
hydraulically pulling jacks. Figure 18 below, shows examples of the outer frame roll-ups.

Figure 18: Outer Frame Roll-Up.

12 lifting operations were required for the integration of the towers into the jacket structure. The towers each weighed
between 800 te to 900 te and involved using four crawler cranes. These critical operations that involved lifting,
upending and transfer were carried out in very narrow congested working areas and therefore required a full clash check
to be carried out in order to guarantee a successful and safe operation ( see Figure 19).

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Figure 19: Tower Erection.

12 similar operations for the flotation tanks involving upending, lifting and transfer for weights between 650 te to 800 te
were carried out using up to three crawler cranes.
24 lifting operations for the pile sleeve clusters weighing between 390 te to 460 te using three crawler cranes were
carried out. Each of the pile sleeve clusters were lifted, rotated and placed on temporary supports prior to main leg
The yards existing 400m long number one skidway was dedicated to the ACG jackets fabrication. The skidway was fully
refurbished to increase its capacity on the assembly area from 100 te to 150 te per linear meter. Reinforced concrete up stands
were cast on the existing slabs, first to re-center the loads and increase the spreading width, secondly to raise the skidway
level by one meter in order to compensate for fluctuating levels of the Caspian sea level, this allowed the STB-1
transportation and launch barge to work to an acceptable freeboard.
Due to the geometry of these jackets the upper part of the jacket (towers and flotation tanks) was extremely heavy. A
concentrated load of up to 2,000 te was calculated which was greater than the skidway capacity. Brace and leg extensions
(see Figure 20) were added to the jacket in order to spread this concentrated load to acceptable levels. The brace and leg
members were installed at the prefabrication stage, cut and removed after each load-out. The leg extensions were reused for
all the jackets.

Figure 20: Brace and Leg Extension.


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The Jackets were loaded out on to STB-1 barge (see Figures 21 and 22).

Figure 21: CA-PDQ Jacket Loadout.

Figure 22: DWG-DUQ Jacket Loadout.

Mooring arrangement consisted of five onshore and two offshore multi-part lines all anchored on piles and tensioned by
means of hydraulic winches. The mooring system was designed to allow for long term conditions (such as six months jacket
storage on the barge) sustaining a 50-yr return period and wind speed of 40m/sec, this gave the project the option to move
completed jackets out of the erection and assembly area, releasing the skidway for the next jackets.
The jackets were loaded out using a dual push-pull system of 3,000 metric tons total ultimate capacity (see Figure 23). The
horizontal friction force was transferred from the onshore skidway to the barge skidway through pinned link beams, thus
preventing the barge applying horizontal loads on the quayside cope beam.

Figure 23: Jacket Push-Pull System.

The friction force, between the skidway sliding plate and timber launch runner, is an important factor during load-out. The
choice of the material and surface preparation was very important. Fluorocarbon Teflon pads were installed on the skidway
and the under side of the launch runner timbers were planed smooth and shaped. Recorded friction coefficients ranged
between 15% to 7% for break-outs and an average of 3.4% to 2.6% in dynamic.
An external centralized ballasting system was used for all load-out operations, while barge internal pumps were planned to be
used only as a contingency. This external ballasting system had an average flow rate capacity of 9,000m3/h for both deballasting and ballasting. For a typical jacket about 21,500 cubic meters of water was transferred to allow for up to 17,000 te
of jacket to reach its final position onto the barge.
Pile fabrication:
There were two noteworthy features for the pile fabrication; the length and the weight. Each pile was designed to be
fabricated and loaded in one single piece, diameter 2134mm, ranging in length from 130m to 160m, in thickness from 60mm
to 110mm and weighing up to 650 te.
Due to the length, the piles were prefabricated in three sections and assembled in the erection areas (see Figure 24). The piles
were fitted with towing bollards and the ends were sealed with rubber diaphragms in order to provide the buoyancy required
during the sea tow to the offshore site. For the heavier piles additional flotation aids were also fitted. The piles were

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transferred from the quayside into the water using two crawler cranes (see Figure 25). The initial plan was to store all
completed piles in the water moored alongside the quay wall. However during trial operations of the first completed pile in
the summer of 2003, it was discovered that marine growth was found to accumulate on the bare piles with remarkable speed.
Each pile could therefore only be placed in the water just before the tow, which was a challenge regarding storage space at
the fabrication yard.

Figure 24: Pile Assembly.

Figure 25: Pile Transfer at Quayside.

Dimensional Control:
The scope was to control the dimensional integrity on all six jackets from steel plate rolling through to assembly and final
roll-up. Prime importance was placed on achieving the required tolerances for interfaces, initially with the templates,
integrated deck (risers, caissons, J tubes etc.) and ultimately with the pin piles on Phase 3.
For the drilling jackets the first important items were the conductor guides as these were situated on the first frame for roll
up. Each plan level elevation was surveyed and the conductor guides were installed and set for roll and inclination relative to
the elevation steelwork. These units were monitored during welding and upon completion; a post weld survey was carried out
to determine the optimum centers of the elevation framing in order to obtain the best fit of all the conductors.
Due to the nature of the construction of the jackets, the tower sections, which would ultimately mate with the underside of the
integrated deck and housed all the hook-up interfaces, were built in isolation. All the major interfaces (risers, caissons, j-tubes
etc.) were installed in their relative tower sections and the mating surfaces were targeted and positioned relative to the best fit
centerlines of the legs and framing. Each tower section was monitored continuously during the positioning and welding
processes in order to maintain dimensional integrity between the jacket leg interfaces.
Temperature variations on such large structures are an important factor. Over a period of time, various points on the jacket
structure were surveyed relative to each other and the time of day, air and steel temperature and degree of restraint were
recorded. From these results an expansion factor was determined for any difference in temperature and applied to the
structure in order to meet the specified requirements within EMMUA 158 when interface structures were surveyed.
Phases 1 and 2 had consisted of jackets which would sit on the sea bed adopting the traditional mud-mat philosophy.
However, due to the weight and height of the Phase 3 jackets such large mud mat structures were impracticable. These
jackets were designed to be positioned and initially supported on pre driven pin piles using steel receptacles that were
integrated into the bottom of the outer legs in the pile sleeve cluster assemblies. The locating steelwork (i.e. lateral
shimming), which would in effect position and orient the jacket, was installed with green material which would be trimmed
to reflect the installed pile positions and ultimately govern the jackets position. Elevation was governed by a large stiffened
bulkhead with stiffened segments (i.e. vertical shimming) of a height to be determined from the offshore metrology.
The pin pile receptacles were to prove to be the most demanding aspect of an already intricate dimensional control exercise.
Strict tolerances were employed and complicated calculations and 3D transformations were required to ensure all interfaces
were correct to ensure accurate placement of the jackets at the offshore site. Protracted discussion and liaison between the
jacket design contractor and the fabricators dimensional control department on site ultimately led to the process being carried
out flawlessly.
Vendor Support:
The role of the vendor for commissioning the equipment, such as the pile grippers, ballast and grouting systems, supplied to
the fabricator was a key ingredient to the success of the jackets, piles and templates. Considerable effort was made to ensure
that the same personnel from the vendor who were familiar with the equipment during the manufacturing stage at their
factories attended the site commissioning work.


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Quality, Health, Safety and Environment (QHSE):

The initial development in 2001 of the fabricators Quality, Heath, Safety and Environment management system that was
applied in Azerbaijan was taken from a previously established system of the fabricators previous operations in Scotland.
From 2001 until present, the QHSE system has been continually developed to meet the requirements of the company, project
and compliance with the fabricators parent company. The QHSE system has been proven to be flexible to meet varying
Company needs without losing the standardization process.
The development and implementation of the system in the early years between 2001 and 2003 was extremely challenging as
the safety culture in Azerbaijan at that time was not well developed. During the project start up period, at a time when major
yard upgrades and construction schedules were fore front on the agenda, the fabricators management ensured that a focus on
developing safety and welfare awareness and implementing the project procedures was equally important.
Key players in the development and implementation of the fabricators QHSE system are;
The Management; for setting policies and objectives to create a culture where safety and quality would become
everyones business.
The Supervision; considered the main line of communication to the workforce and it was considered that the QHSE
objectives were the top priority in their job description.
The Worker; the system priority was to make sure that the worker had the correct training and tools for achieving the
QHSE objectives. The communication from the supervisor and regular campaigns and training sessions gave all the
workforce awareness and capability to step back and think about Risk associated with their daily tasks.
The Client; support from the client in developing the site QHSE policy was paramount to success. The client was
continuously involved in implementing and improving the strategy and positively encouraged the policy.
The site management system was certified to International Standards Organizations (ISO) 9001 and 14001 in 2004 and
Occupational health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS) 18001 in 2006 by Bureau Veritas (BV).
Table 4 highlights the excellent safety record with regards to Lost Time Incidents (LTI) between the years of 2002 and 2007.


LTI Frequency Rate

(per 200,000 man-hours)

Recordable Frequency Rate

(per 200,000 man-hours)















Table 4: LTI Records.

By implementing, maintaining and improving systems and controls the site achieved an improved QHSE culture within the
workforce through training and awareness. There was an improved understanding by the workforce that unsafe working
practices were neither expected nor tolerated. A much higher knowledge of QHSE arrangements and procedures with a
consequent improvement in the safe working practices, habitual use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE),
housekeeping, automatic risk assessment compliance with procedures and requirements was achieved.
The QHSE Management System was driven by management, understood by supervision, supported by the client and
implemented by all. From the start of yard refurbishment in 2001 to completion of the last jacket in mid 2007 the site had
achieved significant improvement in QHSE performances.
Quality Control (QC):
The Senior QC roles were delegated to experienced expatriate personnel with locally employed inspectors filling key
supportive roles.
Continual training of employees combined with learning new techniques, e.g. Semi-automatic welding, a successful continual
improvement was achieved throughout the ACG Project. This is best highlighted by the weld repair rates which went from an

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initial repair rate of 0.94% on the CA-PDQ Jacket on Phase 1, down to 0.16% on the last jacket DWG-PCWU Phase 3 (see
table 5).
Jacket or Template

Welded Length (mm)

Repaired Length

CA-PDQ Jacket




CA-PDQ Template








WA-PDQ Jacket




WA-PDQ Template



EA-PDQ Jacket




EA-PDQ Template




DWG-DUQ Jacket








Table 5: Weld Repair Rates.

Table 6 below shows the fabrication schedule of the six jackets.

Jacket Name

Number of Productive

Delivery Date





3 months ahead of schedule




8 months ahead of schedule




2 months ahead of schedule




4 months ahead of schedule




2 months ahead of schedule




1 month ahead of schedule

Table 6: Fabrication Schedule.

The ACG jackets and associated piles and templates presented several challenges, not least having to use the in-county
facilities in Azerbaijan and the fact that the Caspian Sea is land-locked.
The success of the project demonstrated that all design, procurement, logistics, fabrication and installation challenges were
overcome. Areas of significant note are as follows:

The project completed approximately 100,000 te of jacket and template fabrication and 44,000 te of main piles in a
period of just over 5 years.
All six jackets were completed using one single skidway, the same transportation and installation barge and the
same installation crane vessel by coordinating the design, fabrication and installation schedules and interfaces.
All jackets and piles fabrication was completed safely and ahead of schedule.
All jackets were safely and successfully installed.
Exceptional cooperation and relationships between the client, design, fabrication and installation contractors
contributed to this outstanding result.
Re-use of installation steelwork throughout the project, most notable the multiply use of the flotation tanks,
contributed to significant cost savings.
The design of four of the six jackets in Azerbaijan using predominantly local engineering resources.
The establishment of a world class fabrication facility in Azerbaijan.


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FIGURE 13: DWG-PCWU Jacket Fabrication Steps 1 to 12.

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