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Race against time

Transporting cargo from the west coast to east coast of Russia may sound straightforward, but this belies the complexity and challenges involved. Logistics Manager Sindhu Dasan explains more

The assignment for our logistics team: transport oversized heavy, cargo from the client’s fabrication yard near St Petersburg to Sakhalin for Sakhalin Energy’s new OPF Compression project.

Glance at a map and the journey from A to B seems relatively straightforward. One location is in the west of Russia, the other an island off the east coast, and they are separated by just over 6,300km. But nothing is quite that simple in logistics.

The extreme distance, and the size and weight of the cargo, meant that the team was unable to transport it by land across the country to Vladivostok, the nearest seaport to Sakhalin island. The best option was by sea – and the tried and tested route through the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal and the Malaysia Strait up to South Korea and then on to Sakhalin.

There was a further complication. Sakhalin’s climate is incredibly harsh, the temperature regularly plummets well below zero degrees, and with the water frozen the project site is inaccessible by boat in winter.

The deadline: the end of September when the weather deteriorates, and the water would begin to freeze over once again. If the team missed this window, it would be months before they could try to deliver the cargo again – and the site would have been unable to move forward with the project. They were working against the clock.

“We only had a narrow window of five months in the summer to transport and offload the cargo, demobilise personnel, and reinstate the landing site – preventing a one-year delay on the project,” says Logistics Manager Sindhu Dasan.

The journey was fraught with difficulties – particularly at the beginning and end of the route – and the team had to use all their ingenuity to overcome them.

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”Undignihil moluptae plabo atiunt lanis quidel iuscius ciisque.”

HOW WE WORK

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WORDS CHRISTINA McPHERSON

PUBLISHED MAY 2020

Logistics Manager Sindhu Dasan

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...after rotation

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Inlet receivers before and...

Ready, set, go
The first challenge came when moving the cargo from the yard to St Petersburg’s Neva Jetty and the port. Two inlet receivers – weighing around 530 tonnes each – were too high to be transported underneath two high-speed railway crossings.

If there was any delay here, the whole project could have been put in jeopardy.

“The components’ protrusions were too high to fit under the railway lines, so the team came up with an innovative solution – rotating the cargo by 90 degrees while lifting the cables,” explains Sindhu. “Permission to disconnect the railway lines would have taken six months, time we didn’t have. We worked with local authorities to stop the trains and lift the cables – one crossing had ten cables alone and it took about three days to Neva Jetty.”

On reaching the jetty, the inlet receivers were safely rotated back to their original, upright position and then moved on a barge to St Petersburg port.

Two ships, chosen for their speed, set sail for South Korea with the inlet receivers as well as other cargo including compressors and gas turbines; the journey took around 32 days to the port of Masan, where the Russian cargo was consolidated with additional cargo shipped from China.

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The journey from the west to east coasts of Russia

Lifting the cables at the second railway crossing

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The beach landing facility

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Masan, South Korea

The team successfully offloaded the cargo

A smooth landing
While the cargo was being transported to South Korea, the team began work on a temporary beach landing facility in Sakhalin.

There were no jetty facilities near the project site to offload the cargo and environmental considerations meant that no permanent facilities could be built. The waters surrounding the island are home to many protected species and heavy operations would have disturbed the area’s marine life, including salmon and the endangered Western gray whale.

“A transit barge was grounded and put on the beach, which acted as a temporary jetty,” explains Sindhu. “The whole beach landing facility was then interconnected with steel ramps providing a rigid, safe pathway for self-propelled trailers to carry the cargo.”

The beach landing facility was installed in just 45 days, but one of the most challenging parts of the journey was still to come.

The final countdown
The heavy cargo was loaded onto a barge at Masan in South Korea and transported to Sakhalin to offload. As Sindhu explains, beach landings are technically challenging: “We were in the open sea and exposed to the weather. It’s difficult connecting the two barges together – one was grounded while one was floating, so the risk was that they would need to be disconnected if the weather turned.”

A specialised team monitored the conditions, measuring wind speed, waves and currents. But through good teamwork, innovative thinking – and a little luck with the weather – the team met their deadline. The cargo was safely offloaded over a period of one month and moved to a storage location onsite.





March

Cargo is transported to St Petersburg’s Neva Jetty. Two inlet receivers have to be rotated to fit under two high-speed railway lines.

April

Inlet receivers are rotated back to their original position at the jetty.

May

Inlet receivers moved by barge to St Petersburg port. Compressors and turbines were moved by land to St Petersburg port. Two ships carrying the cargo set sail for Masan in South Korea. Cargo is also shipped from China to Masan.

June

The cargo arrives in Masan where it is consolidated. Construction of the beach landing begins on Sakhalin.

July

The cargo is loaded onto a barge for Sakhalin and then offloaded on the island using the new beach landing.

August

All cargo is delivered safely to site and the beach is reinstated to its previous condition.

Against
the clock:
A timeline

“We got there in the nick of time, offloading the cargo in one straight stretch,” adds Sindhu. “What I enjoyed the most is the teamwork. The project involved a lot of people of different nationalities – South Korean, Russian, Dutch, Italian. Working together for a common goal is something I will always cherish. I was also there during the operation when all the different parties came together. That bit of beach will be in my mind forever.”

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The team at the project site

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