Casting heads off to the deep

One of Valemon's cast nodes, the largest ever produced by Vulcan SFM, leaving the Brightside Lane foundry.
One of Valemon's cast nodes, the largest ever produced by Vulcan SFM, leaving the Brightside Lane foundry.
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Sheffield Forgemasters has dispatched the heaviest offshore casting it has ever made.

The 100-tonne node is one of two which the group has made as part of a £3 million contract with Dutch company Heerema, won by Forgemasters’ specialist offshore technology and project management division, Vulcan SFM.

The nodes act as high-strength, fatigue resistant joints for the massive tubes that create the structure - or “jacket” - for offshore oil and gas platforms.

They are part of a contract for six castings which will be the sole lifting points used to manoevre the giant structure into place in the Valemon field, off the coast of Norway.

When it is in place, the 157-metre high jacket will stand in 135 metres of water in some of the world’s most extreme conditions and support living quarters for workers that are eight storeys high.

Vulcan SFM managing director Ian Nicholls said: “The jacket will weigh more than 9,000 tonnes when it is lifted into place and it will then support a deck of around 10,000 tonnes so these components are not only lifting a lot of weight in one direction, they will be supporting an even higher weight once the deck is installed.

“The castings are made in a specially developed material offering a balance of strength toughness and weldability.

“The strength is developed through heat treatment involving water quenching and this is the biggest casting we have ever quenched, which has been made possible by the investments we have made in our quenching facilities.

“The castings are designed by Vulcan SFM to handle immense stresses when in use and the nodes we have manufactured over a twenty five year period of supply into offshore use, have a zero failure rate.”

The latest contract follows three major contracts for castings that will be used to secure oil rigs to the sea bed off the coast of Brazil and in the Gulf of Mexico.