Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Costa Concordia Fuel Removal

Video Links:
Click for a video explanation
Preparations Underway to Salvage Fuel from Costa Concordia

Upon becoming aware of the evacuation of Costa Concordia, SMIT approached the owners and underwriters of the Costa Concordia bidding  for the salvage contract.
SMIT has an extensive track record relating to marine emergency response, refloating stranded vessels and wreck removals. In the days following the accident, a contract was awarded by the Owners to SMIT and local partners Tito Neri for the removal of the bunker oil and pollution control.  

The estimated amount of bunkers in the vessel is 2200 MT of IFO (intermediate fuel oil), 185 MT of MGO (marine gas oil/diesel) and lubricants, distributed over 17 tanks.  We have seen conflicting reports of the amount of fuel.  The latest number we have seen involves 13 double-bottomed tanks and 10 single-bottom tanks.  

In the days following the accident, a contract was awarded by the Owners to SMIT and local partners Tito Neri for the removal of the bunker oil and pollution control.

24 January - Preparation Begins
Following a press conference held by the authorities yesterday on the island of Giglio, which was also attended by representatives of Costa Cruises and SMIT Salvage, it was stated that SMIT Salvage would be allowed to commence with the preparations for the oil removal today.  The work will be done in tandem with the search and rescue efforts.   Click for Continuing Coverage (below)

The Process
  • SMIT Salvage placed its work/crane barge Meloria, pictured above, alongside the Costa Concordia.
  • Divers from SMIT Salvage will then inspect parts of the underwater ship and make the necessary preparations to remove the fuel from the ship. 
  • Next stage will be the drilling of holes in the fuel tanks and the installation of valves by means of a hot tap. 
While the fuel has been submerged, it has become solidified.  A hot tap is used to heat the fuel back into a liquid state so that it can be extracted.  This process will take several weeks with current estimates at 4 to 6 weeks.

Precautionary Measures
  • Double containment booms around the ship ( to concentrate oil in thicker surface layers so that skimmers, vacuums, or other collection methods can be used more effectively)
  • SMIT has mobilized an oil tanker with emergency response equipment including sweeping arms, booms and a skimmer.   (to respond to any spill that might occur)

Ongoing Updates

Overall updates of the Costa Concordia search and rescue operations are being made on the following blog post:   Costa Concordia Listing after Deadly Accident

This post will provide updates on the fuel salvage operations.

24 March - Removal Completed

This morning at 08.00 CET SMIT Salvage successfully completed its assignment on the removal of fuel from the Costa Concordia. Over the last couple of days, the SMIT Salvage diving team transferring HFO from the last settling tank in the engine room. Early this morning, the last tanks were completed, closed and sealed off.

The entire oil removal process which lasted just over one month went smoothly and was executed in line with expectations. Most of the diving and pumping equipment will be demobilized and brought back to Livorno onboard of the crane/work barge Meloria.

SMIT will retain a  small diving team and a diving foreman on the island under a so-called ‘caretaker contract'. The SMIT Salvage team will remain standby on the island for designated emergency duties until a contractor is appointed for the removal of the entire ship.

23 March - Oil Removed

2,400 tons of oil have been removed from the ship.  This process took five weeks to complete.   The ship still must be monitored for leaks and further cleanup efforts are pending, including the ultimate removal of the ship.   Six companies have submitted bids to Costa Cruises for the removal.

2 March - Double Bottom Tanks Completed

This afternoon the salvage team completed the discharge of Heavy Fuel Oil, Diesel Oil and Sludge from the Double Bottom Tanks. Weather permitting the crane barge Meloria will now be moved forward in her moorings in between the stabilizer and the large damaged area. An access hole will be created in the hull to allow the divers to enter the engine room spaces where the settling and service tanks are located.

Once the connections have been installed, the contents will be transferred to the offloading tanker. Thereafter the contents of the sewage tanks will also be pumped out of the ship.

23 February - Removal Progressing Well, Steady Pace

Salvage workers have extracted 1,300 cubic metres of fuel from six tanks, equivalent to two-thirds of the total on board.  Oil has been removed from all six forward tanks and the hoses, pumps and valves have been disconnected with the flanges sealed off. Following the successful oil removal from the forward ship, the crane barge was disconnected and brought back into the sheltered port on Monday morning. The fuel tanker 'Elba' into which the fuel was pumped has moved away from the Costa Concordia and a second fuel barge 'Magic Duba' is standby to replace the 'Elba'.

Since Monday, the wind and wave conditions have hampered the continuation of the oil removal process. As soon as the weather permits, the crane barge will be repositioned alongside the Costa Concordia. Based on the current planning, the mid-ship tanks containing MGO and two double bottom sludge tanks will have the next priority. These tanks will also be emptied using the hot tap method. Due to the unpredictable weather conditions, SMIT cannot provide an estimated date of completion.

13 February - Pumping Began Sunday

Yesterday afternoon, at 16.55, the first oil was removed from the Costa Concordia. In line with the presentation made on the January 28, the initial operation is focused on the forward fuel tanks. Currently four of the six forward fuel tanks have now been installed with a sealable flange. As operations continue, the remaining tanks will also be prepared.

The first tank which was connected to the pumps is relatively small and located on the port side of the Costa Concordia. The weather forecast for the coming days looks good and pumping will continue around the clock as long as the favorable conditions continue.

12 February - Removal Begins

Underwater pumping operations began Sunday to remove some of the 500,000 gallons of fuel aboard the Costa Concordia, after nearly two weeks of delays because of rough seas and bad weather. The removal operations will run 24 hours a day. The forecast for the next several days is favorable, so it is the hope of SMIT, who is running the operation, that the majority of the fuel in the forward tanks can be drained by week's end.This would represent about 60% of the fuel.

It will take approximately 28 consecutive days of pumping to empty the tanks.

28 January - Hot Tap Animation 

At a press conference held today on the island of Giglio, SMIT Salvage and its partner Fratelli Neri provided a technical briefing on the oil removal operation.  See Oil Removal Briefing - Click Here for Details

Two of the six forward fuel tanks have now been installed with a sealed flange and the remaining tanks were due to be prepared today. The six forward tanks are estimated to hold approximately two thirds of the (intermediate) fuel oil in the casualty.

Unfavorable weather once again played a role and the crane barge was disconnected from the casualty and brought into the protective port of the island Giglio.

25 January - Preparation Continues 

Divers from SMIT Salvage together with its partner Fratelli Neri have made significant progress:
  • Inspected forward section of the submerged underwater part of the ship
  • Marked the drilling locations of the heavy fuel oil tanks
  • Installed second inner protection barrier (oil booms)
Installation of hot tap valves on the outer hull of the vessel and drilling of holes through the hull into the oil tanks must be done before pumping of the oil can commence.

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