On September 5th, 2021, at 1712 hrs. escorted by 8 tow tugs, the Floating Production Unit (FPU) Argos departed the quayside in Ingleside, Texas. The voyage was part of a BP project to install the Argos in the Mad Dog-2 field, with Subsea 7 acting as the EPIC contractor and Athens Group Services subcontracted to assist the Subsea 7 Marine team in the tow and positioning/hook up scope.
The FPU set sail under the direction of tow masters Captain Jeet Kar, Athens Group Services’ Director of Marine Services and Captain Janak Lotey, Marine Manager Subsea 7 and under the advice of harbor pilots. The Argos was towed through the narrow channels of LaQuinta to Corpus Christi then onto the open sea to the location in the Gulf of Mexico at GC 780 OCS-G30300 for Installation.
Argos is a very large structure with dimensions of 449.5 ft x 449.5 ft, overall height of 232 ft, operational draft of 85 ft, and displacement of 101,531 tonnes.
Prior to the tow out, the marine team which included Captain Janak Lotey and Captain Kar, practiced maneuvering of the FPU using 6 tugs through the narrow channels. Conditions including wind speeds, currents as well as contingency scenarios such as wind gusts, cross currents and tug break down in the channel during tow were practiced. The Simulators were later shipped and set up at a Subsea 7 spoolbase facility in Ingleside where more intense simulation scenarios were practiced with tug Captains and pilots.
For the inshore portion of the tow out, 8 tugs with 4 harbor pilots were on board in compliance with regulatory requirements. Upon completion of the inshore tow on September 6th, 0310 hrs., the harbor pilots disembarked via personnel basket and the harbor tugs were released.
Thereafter the FPU was towed to the transition location for tow frame removal and ballasting. During this time, the FPU encountered some very rough seas and winds due to Hurricane Nicholas. One of the tugs lost its engine and was unable to hold onto the line. The tug had to release all of the 3,000 ft tow line connected to the FPU which posed a challenge for the tow masters to move the FPU quickly into deeper waters to prevent the line snagging with any subsea asset.
The effects of heavy weather were experienced from September 12th, 1030, hrs. until September 15th, 0910 hrs. On September 14th the installation vessel Island Victory was connected in addition to the tow tugs to tow the FPU to location.
The tow masters managed to maneuver the FPU to its installation location on September 25th when the first attempt to install the first mooring line was made. At that time, the FPU experienced a very strong loop current, which resulted in a decision to move the FPU Westward outside the loop currents. Upon reaching the 28-day rotation duration limit, Athens Group Services provided relief tow masters Captain Walter Rodriguez and Captain Narold Orcena to continue to installation. The FPU was then moved 70 miles southward to find a weaker current segment in the loop where an installation vessel was connected in addition to the 4 tugs to bolster the tow power and cut across the loop band towards the center where the current was relatively weaker.
On October 9th, the conditions finally allowed the Argos to be moved back to the installation location and the first of 8 mooring lines necessary to establish storm safe conditions was installed.
At the time of this report, mooring line installation continues, with frequent interruption due to weather and loop current changes. Captain Kar has begun work on the second vessel, the Kings Quay, which will be towed out of Ingleside in the coming weeks.
These projects signal another milestone in the rollout of Athens Group Services’ comprehensive suite of marine services which include marine advisory services for underwriters, project support services, marine warranty services, marine inspection services, and specialized services — including tow master and marine cybersecurity assessment.
Contact us to discover how Athens Group Services can help ensure your next marine project meets the highest standards of performance, reliability, and safety.