McDermott announces J-Lay modifications for pipelay and construction vessel Amazon

Vessel modifications will include the addition of a multi-joint facility, dual pipe loading cranes and additional power generation.

The Amazon will be converted to an ultra-deepwater J-Lay vessel.
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The Amazon will be converted to an ultra-deepwater J-Lay vessel.

McDermott International has announced its modification plans to convert the Amazon to an ultra-deepwater J-Lay vessel.


The Amazon will be capable of installing hex-joints up to 24 inches (60 centimetres) in diameter on a worldwide basis. The Amazon is operated by McDermott under a long-term bareboat charter that started in 2017. The vessel is equipped with twin 400 metric tonne cranes and accommodations for 200 personnel.


The modifications will consist of removing the existing tower and replacing it with a J-Lay system with 1,500 metric tonnes of dynamic top tension on the tower, which will enable large subsea structures and hex sections of pipelines from 4.5 to 24 inches (11 to 60 centimetres) to be installed. The Amazon modifications will include an integrated multi-joint facility, where single joints will be welded to form hex joints. The 10,000 metric tonnes of existing cargo space on-board will remove the requirement for onshore facilities to produce the multi-joints, enhancing mobility of the vessel and reducing reliance on shore bases for support.


"Today's announcement represents our strategic vision for the Amazon to competitively position it as one of the world's best ultra-deepwater vessels," said David Dickson, president and CEO of McDermott. "Expected to have one of the most efficient J-Lay systems in the world, the Amazon will enable McDermott to pursue major field development projects with rigid pipelay requirements at depths of nearly 11,500 feet. This is an exceptional opportunity for the company to expand the technical capabilities of our global fleet and address the anticipated growth in deepwater and ultra-deepwater spending."  


Royal IHC from the Netherlands (IHC) has been selected to design and build the J-Lay system, based on IHC's innovative and proprietary design, and will perform overall management of the modification project. The original equipment manufacturers will be used for all modifications to the ship's systems, including an additional five megawatts of power and pipe handling cranes, under the management of IHC.


"The extensive use of existing proven technology and process automation, combined with early collaboration with the system designers, means we expect to have a very efficient and cost effective asset," said Alan Marriott, global vice president, marine assets & operations. "The Amazon will provide a key enabling asset within the McDermott fleet. The vessel is designed to be self-sufficient, allowing easy transition from project to project. The vessel is expected to provide pull through opportunities for the rest of the McDermott subsea fleet."


Initial engineering began on the project in October 2017 and transitioned into full engineering design in January 2018. McDermott will pay for the modification project primarily through an increased bareboat charter rate over an extended 12 year term once the modifications are complete. The Amazon owners have secured an export credit-backed senior loan facility from a group of lenders.


The Amazon will be delivered to IHC in the Netherlands in August 2019 for a conversion period that is expected to last 10 months. Redelivery to McDermott is expected in the summer of 2020.

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