The Pieter Schelte is the first boat large enough to remove abandoned oil rigs all at once. Which is good, because there are a lot of them.
BY Tim Heffernan
OFFSHORE OIL PLATFORMS FACE AN EXISTENTIAL crisis similar to the rest of the world’s: they’re in trouble when the oil runs out. But whereas people can turn to other forms of power, rigs are doomed. If they’re in the Gulf of Mexico, they’ll often be sunk in place for marine life to colonise. (Quite successfully too; a recent study found that rigs are among the most productive fish hatcheries on the planet.) But by law, the dry rigs in the North Sea oilfield, Europe’s largest, must be completely removed. Until now this has meant a long process of piecemeal dismantling, but this year, when the Dutch company Allseas’ newest ship, Pieter Schelte, goes into service, the job will get much simpler.
The Pieter Schelte’s enormous size allows it to lift and remove entire North Sea oil rigs in a single operation. A process that currently takes months, or even years, will be accomplished in days.
Read more in the March issue of Popular Mechanics – on sale NOW!