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How Does Heavy Lift Work?

With major drilling and production facilities located offshore, the oil and gas industry must rely
on an efficient and safe way to install this equipment. Through experience and innovation, the
industry has developed a number of ways to overcome heavy lift challenges offshore.
There are two main methods of marine installation of heavy equipment. The conventional way to
install major facilities, such as topsides and production equipment, is through lift barges, while
floatover installation has been gaining acceptance as a method of offshore installation, as well.
Additionally, new techniques for performing heavy lift operations are being developed.

Lift Barges
For decades, heavy lift cranes have been deployed in offshore oil and gas fields for installation
purposes. Heavy-lift barges are used to both transport the equipment offshore and lift it into
place via powerful cranes.

J. Rays Derrick Barge 27 Performs Heavy Lift OperationsSource: J. Ray McDermott

With lifting capacities greater than 10,000 tons, heavy lift cranes are many times used in singlelift operations. In other words, the equipment, such as topsides, are lifted from the barge and
mated with the facility jacket in one heavy lift.

Heavy Lift Operations in Asia PacificSource: J. Ray McDermott

Requiring less muscle, major marine installations can be divided into modular lifts. For example,
a processing facility can be fabricated in multiple modules that are then installed offshore one by

Floatover Installation
Gaining popularity for being both time- and cost-efficient, floatover installation through
semisubmersible vessels is a viable option for marine installation operations. This method of
marine installation requires a vessel with a hydraulic pumping system that allows the vessel to
submerge itself under the water, and then reemerge.

Intermac 650 Getting into Location for Floatover OperationsSource: J. Ray McDermott

Allowing onshore mating of equipment, floatover marine installation involves transporting the
equipment to location, as well as installing it. Here, the semisubmersible vessel floats into place
and takes on water to partially descend under water. The equipment is lowered into place and
installed, and the vessel then floats out from under it. Then, hydraulic pumps drive the water out
of the vessel, which reemerges from the water.

Innovative Marine Installation Solutions

Rather than depending on a heavy lifting crane or submerging into the water, SeaMetric has
developed two new vessels to perform heavy lift marine installations. This solution provides twin
vessels equipped with numerous lifting arms on one side of each vessel.

SeaMetric's Heavy Lift Vessels

Lifting Arms Extend to Enable Heavy Lift Installations Offshore

These heavy transport vessels straddle the equipment on either side, extending their lifting arms
to the equipment. The arms then lift the equipment and then lower it into place for installation.