Adventures of Spaniards in Russia

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At the beginning of 2014 Beluga Projects Logistic won a tender for delivery of two coke drums (42,10 х 8,33 х 7,86 meters; 465.7 tons) from Gijon (Spain) to the installation site on the territory of Antipinsky Oil Refinery, Tyumen (Russia). Outstanding innovations were implemented within this project, both in the context of logistics and relevant engineering solutions.

When working through the transportation route, the Company had to take into consideration a great many factors, such as: possible unreadiness of cargo and a strict deadline of shipping along both the Northern Sea Route and shallow waters at the end of delivery (rivers Tobol and Tura). Therefore, to ensure safe through carriage of the coke drums from Gijon to Tyumen, special measures were taken care of and original engineering solutions implemented. The additionally developed logistic scheme involved the up-to-date barge Damen Riverstar 2 with a reinforced deck and unlimited sailing area, specific complex of Ro-Ro handling operations, method of urgent freeboard increase when moving in shallow waters and many other issues.

The unladen Damen Riverstar 2 fitted out with all necessary equipment left the Port of Saint-Petersburg on June 10, 2014 and called at Gijon Port on June 24, 2014 to be loaded. Haulage of the drums from the manufacturer’s plant to the berth was organized by the Company specialists together with a skilled Spanish motor carrier Cordero. Thanks to calibrated engineering evaluation they managed to perform the transport in a precise and safe manner, despite all the doubts expressed by the manufacturer and the Client regarding physical possibility for such a cargo to pass provincial Gijon with all its narrow side streets and maneuvering constraints.

The barge was loaded by the Ro-Ro method. Application of an air cushion was out of the question. To provide for rolling of the items on the floating barge and given ocean port conditions related to constantly changing water level, the experts designed and welded special supports to the barge stern, which made it possible to reduce heaving of the barge caused by the items in the course of rolling.

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Even with this engineering principle in place, the rolling of the cargo had to be carefully planned and flawlessly carried out to avoid swinging of the barge against the quay following critical tide and ebb points.

Transfer of the load from the road train aboard the Damen Riverstar 2 barge involved the simultaneous lift system consisting of 8 jacks with the lifting capacity of 100 tons each. The system had been engineered specifically for this project and was used for the first time. Unlike a standard set of independently operating jacks, the mentioned system ensured simultaneous moving of the jacks with the laden barge being afloat as well as steady lowering of the units from the height of 1.4 meters onboard the seacraft. Unique EVO system from Enerpac and professional activities of the carrier’s specialists enabled to lower the cargo weighing almost 500 tons and making over 40 meters in length and about 8 meters in diameter in a safe and timely manner.

Apart from the loading technology, the shipping route itself was also not usual. The same dumb barge assisted by different tugboats covered about 9,000 kilometers from the Port of Gijon (Spain) through the Northern Sea Route, Port of Sabetta (Russia) and the mouth of Ob River to the berth in Tyumen (Russia). In Sabetta Port Beluga Projects Logistic, using its customs broker status, provided the customs clearance of the cargo with the ship being in the harbor and not directly calling at the port. This was a sound experience for the Company, because they were the first to perform clearance at the new customs point opened the day before. In fact, very few companies managed to accomplish the same later.

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Following the customs clearance in the Port of Sabetta, the cargo was up to the continuous and hard passage along the inland waterways from the mouth of Ob River via rivers Ob, Irtysh, Tobol and Tura to reach Tyumen. It is worth mentioning that Tobol and Tura rivers are not included into the Russian register of navigable rivers because of the low water level. In other words, shipping on these rivers is possible provided that a carrier bears the whole risk. Even considering the high draft of the Damen Riverstar 2 barge and its potential passability of the majority of country’s waters, the Company planned a transitional discharge of one of the drums on the quay in Tobolsk in order to reduce the barge draft. Still, there was a hope to pass the Tobol and the Tura at a high water without making any transit stops. For this purpose the experts started to monitor the water level in the rivers and, when it became clear that it was likely, decided to hire an extra tug boat to sail along the Tura as soon as possible. It was a substantial risk. Clear enough that a river level can be considered as an average only – the nature of bottom is always different and a lot depends on towers’ experience. Any contact with the bed may be hazardous. Nevertheless, on the last day of high water on September 05, 2014 the barge approached the berth in Tyumen and was successfully moored. Extension of the entire water route of the laden barge upon its leaving the Port of Gijon made 57 days.

In spite of the impressive results, the Forwarder was ready for any developments, such as a sudden drop in water level and its turning out insufficient for shipping of the barge carrying even a single coke drum. To solve this task, Company’s drawings were used to manufacture special air bags capable of pushing the barge to the surface, considerably reducing its draft in this way.

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It is worth saying that prior to the empty barge leaving the Port of Saint-Petersburg the Company already commenced construction of quays in Tyumen and Tobolsk. Initially it was planned to unload one of the drums on the intermediate quay in Tobolsk and then, upon rolling out the second drum in Tyumen, return to pick up the first item and deliver it to Tyumen as well. For the mentioned plan to take place, serious labor and financial resources were employed. Rolling out the cargo on the both quays was complicated by a high ascent – about 5 degrees. The difficult unloading in Tyumen was successfully tackled by means of two heavy-duty tractors and two stationary hoists.

Early November a modular haul rig delivered the consignment to the final destination – Antipinsky Oil Refinery, as soon as the plant specialists were through with arranging the erection site. This short route was also full of formidable tasks related to the travel width, but mostly to numerous overhead lines (power, communication lines, etc.). Winter season and hostile weather together with the rough terrain posed serious challenges given such a tonnage.

Transportation of two coke drums weighing almost 1,000 tons from Gijon to Tyumen took place owing to bold engineering solutions, precise calculations, up-to-date infrastructure and Beluga Projects Logistic doing its best at each phase of the project execution.