Helix Revamps MSV Seawell

The light well intervention/dive support vessel, MSV Seawell, has returned to service after a £60-million investment by its owners, Aberdeen-based Helix Well Ops (UK).

Launched 30 years ago at the Pallion yard in Sunderland by North East Shipbuilders, the 114-metre long vessel has undergone a refit and upgrade to ensure it remains at the forefront of the oil and gas industry, after already having entered more than 650 wells, decommissioned over 150 live and suspended wells, including 15 subsea fields.

The MSV Seawell undertook its first light well intervention project in the Magnus field, north-east of Shetland, in July 1987. In November 1995, it carried out the first subsea tree replacement from a monohull vessel anywhere in the world. The North Sea’s Arkwright Field was the location of another first for the vessel in October 1998, when the world’s first wireline intervention on a horizontal subsea tree was completed.

The vessel’s multi-million pound upgrade was carried out at the Damen yard in Vlissingen in the Netherlands, taking around eight and a half months.

Improving the efficiency and capability of MSV Seawell were set as key outcomes of the project.

Six new Rolls Royce Bergen C25:33L8ACD generator sets have replaced Hedemora generators. The dynamic positioning (DP) thrusters and azimuths have been upgraded to DP3 class.

All electrical systems and cabling have been replaced and upgraded. Onboard accommodation has been improved, the vessel’s dive system and bells have been refurbished, while its lifeboats have also been upgraded to comply with new North Sea performance standards.

The modifications have changed the distinctive silhouette of MSV Seawell. A new 50-tonne crane with active heave compensation and an IHC-designed multi-purpose tower have replaced the existing twin 65-tonne cranes aft and separate derrick that provided its characteristic profile.

Steve Nairn, Helix Well Ops (UK) vice president, said: “MSV Seawell has provided an important and invaluable contribution to the North Sea oil and gas industry over the past three decades. It was the first vessel of its kind and has delivered many firsts throughout its career.

“Refitting MSV Seawell has been a major undertaking and one that underlines Helix Well Ops’ commitment to the North Sea marketplace, and having a robust and capable fleet of vessels, which includes Well Enhancer and Skandi Constructor, to service it. The investment ensures this iconic vessel will continue to pioneer a market it has helped shape.”

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