Damen provides design, components for Canadian oil sands dredgers


(GORINCHEM, Netherlands) — Damen Shipyards Group has completed an key construction contract comprising two electric-powered cutter suction dredgers (CSD) for the Canadian oil sands industry. With both vessels built in Canada, the contract marks the close cooperation between Damen and Aecon, Canada’s largest publicly traded infrastructure development and construction company.

Two newly built Damen CSDs have commenced operations in Northern Alberta. The two 40.64-meter-long vessels perform dredging duties in oil sands tailings ponds. These tailings are a byproduct of oil sands mining (oil sands being a surface substrate that is saturated with bitumen — a heavy and sticky form of crude oil). The effective management of these tailing ponds is therefore of vital importance.

The considerable size of the project required two of Damen’s largest cutter suction dredgers: the Damen ECSD650. This vessel is capable of production levels of 7,200 cubic meters per hour at 6.5 bar. This electrically-powered design receives its power supply from a 13.8 kV ship-to-shore cable.

Full component supply

Fabrication of both vessels took place in Canada, involving close cooperation between Damen and Aecon. With their broad scope of business interests including a shipyard in Pictou, Nova Scotia, Aecon had all the necessary shipbuilding skills to handle construction. Their scope included construction of all the structural steel components and piping for the dredgers.

Damen’s involvement concerned the overall vessel design and provision of all the major components including motors, steel package and electric and hydraulic installations. Damen Dredging Equipment provided the dredging engineering and design in addition to parts such as pumps, winches and cutter heads.

The Damen team also provided technical assistance during the building, outfitting and commissioning phases as well as on-site training of operations team.

Transport solutions

Due to the location of the Aecon yard, approximately 5,000 km away from the oil production site, efficient transportation of the two vessels was vital. Damen’s solution was modular construction — facilitating transportation by truck as well as safe and fast assembly on arrival. The modularity of the design will also make any future relocations a more straightforward procedure.

The vessels — called Igor Mazursky and Fitzgerald — can dredge to a maximum depth of 10 meters. Their primary duty is to pump water back to the process plant and to maintain the capacity of the tailings ponds within their design specifications. Dredge production is flexible as the dredgers can be either controlled from the vessel itself or via remote control from the shore.

Construction partners

The dredging muscle comes from Damen’s BP6560MD dredge pump that features a variable-frequency drive with a 2,200-kW electric motor. The hydraulic installation is power by a 600-kW electric motor which feeds to the 25- kW cutter head and the winches.

With these two dredgers delivered in summer 2015, these two ECSD 650 vessels represent Damen’s growing presence in the North American market. “We are extremely proud to be active in Canada,” said Jan van Hogerwou, Damen manager, North America. “This important dredger contract not only represents a successful construction partnership with Aecon, but also a continuance of our long-term strategy in this part of the world.”

For more information, visit www.damen.com.

By Professional Mariner Staff