Despite the coronavirus pandemic and last-minute crane failure prior to the delivery of its new offshore installation vessel Orion, DEME Offshore has installed the first jacket of the Moray East wind farm on time. The job is now being carried out by Seajacks’ offshore wind farm installation vessel Scylla.

The company made every effort to find a suitable vessel to ensure the project’s baseline schedule is adhered to, mobilising the replacement vessel Scylla for the jacket installation. The Scylla is owned by Seajacks, a company that operates self-propelled jack-up vessels. Once completed, Moray East will be Scotland’s largest offshore wind farm.

The contract for the design, fabrication and installation of 103 foundation substructures and the installation of three topside structures was awarded in December 2018. Even though the design phase was still underway, DEME Offshore placed early orders for time-critical components. Fabrication of the 309 pin piles was initiated at two diverse manufacturing locations in order to expedite the initial installation works.

DEME Offshore’s installation vessel Apollo then installed all piles using a custom-designed piling template to maximise efficiency and to ensure that the piles were installed within the strict tolerances required. At each of the 103 locations three piles have been installed, with a length in the range of thirty to fifty metres and individual weight between 95 tonnes and 173 tonnes.

More recently, the 103 jacket structures (three for the offshore substations and 100 for the wind turbines) have been fabricated at four major centres, each working in parallel to ensure maximum throughput.

‘Despite the many challenges brought to us by the coronavirus and the incident with the crane of Orion, our dedicated Moray East project team and all of our partners have done their utmost to make sure this complex project stays on schedule by closely coordinated teamwork,’ says Bart De Poorter, General Manager DEME Offshore. ‘Such an ambitious project would not be possible without these highly skilled professionals – their ‘can do’ attitude – and the support of our shareholders, lenders, management and the team of the Moray East project. In these unprecedented times, and given this is one of the most complex EPCI projects in offshore wind history, this is a real achievement.’

Orion accident

Delivery of the Orion has been delayed, after the hook of its 5000-tonne Liebherr crane broke during load tests, causing severe damage to the crane and ship. An investigation into the precise cause of this accident is still ongoing. It is as yet unclear when the Orion will be ready for deployment.