The Christy Lee Platform, located along the western shore of Cook Inlet near the Drift River Terminal Facility, experienced catastrophic mechanical failure to the north fender following a storm which caused the fender to fall into the water. The fender came to rest on the seafloor at the base of the platform in approximately 80-ft of water.
The Christy Lee Platform is outfitted with two large fender structures that are mechanically raised and lowered with the tide to keep visiting tankers properly fended during calls. Each fender is constructed of a steel framework that measures approximately 96-ft x 30-ft x 8-ft and weighs 175 tons each. Oil tankers load crude from the Drift River Terminal via a pump station located approximately one mile offshore. During loading operations, the tankers moor to the Christy Lee Platform. The fenders are critical to platform operations to prevent damage to the tankers and platform due to the ice and water currents impacting the area.
In response to the failure, Hilcorp Alaska immediately contacted Global Diving & Salvage, Inc (GDS) who mobilized a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) team to conduct an underwater survey of the situation. GDS’s crew used an ROV deployed sonar system to determine the impact to the platform structure as the heavy fender fell. The ROV also determined the fenders exact location and its orientation on the seafloor to support there being sufficient water depth above the fallen fender to allow vessels to continue to call berth. A temporary system needed to be devised in order to keep the platform operational.
PPM was contracted to assist with the installation of a temporary fender system to allow the platform to continue to receive tankers and prevent a potential shut-in of the Cook Inlet platforms as well as develop and execute a salvage plan to remove the 175-ton damaged fender from the water, take it to shore for repairs, and reinstall. Divers rigged the fender for removal. Fender was lifted using the 600-ton derrick D.B. Salvation and loaded onto the deck of a flat deck barge. The fender was then transported to the ASRC dock in Nikiski, AK where it was repaired by local fabricators and ironworkers.
GDS and PPM returned to Cook Inlet a final time in October to load the repaired fender aboard a barge and transport to the Christy Lee Platform for re-installation. The D.B. Salvation was once again utilized to lift the repaired fender back into position along the north-side legs of the Platform. Hilcorp employees connected the fender to the falls relieving the D.B. Salvation of the load. After the fender tested operational, GDS and PPM demobilized from the site.
The damaged fender was recovered by the D.B. Salvation, a 600-ton capacity heavy-lift rig. The floating platform is a 300x90x20 flat deck barge with a 4600 Series 4 Crane and 4 Drum Winch System with 110-ton Support Crane and 500 sq ft Operations Center. The D.B. Salvation is set up for emergency response and marine salvage in challenging environments. The Christy Lee Platform is located on the western shores of Cook Inlet and is impacted by heavy currents and flowing ice. The project required careful planning and accurate execution in order to prevent enormous impacts on oil production in Cook Inlet. Heavy lifts to and from barges to shore were conducted throughout the phased operation.