At the top of his list of qualities Jackie Duplechain was looking for in a new crane was versatility.
He found it in a Link-Belt 108 Hylab 5.
“On a routine basis we drive timber location pile foundations with our new Link-Belt 108 Hylab 5 on land, inshore waters and shallow marshlands. We also use it working from a floating barge or from solid ground for many other heavy lift applications. It’s a multi-functional crane, small with exceptional weight and balance,” said Duplechain, marine superintendent of BLR Companies.
The crane is outfitted with 100 ft. of straight boom, as well as the factory optional extra counterweight, which bumps its rating up to a 60-ton crane.
“The clients we work for are very particular and don’t want to hear any downtime excuses. All they want is results,” said Maxim Doucet, owner and founder of BLR Companies in Rayne, LA.
The machine came in handy in the wake of last year’s hurricane season. The Link-Belt played a key role during a platform restoration operation south of Intercoastal City, LA.
“It involved recovery of objects both on the platform and underwater, having been blown off or washed overboard by the storms,” Duplechain said.
The crew moved the crane and barge intact to the site from the Slidell area through the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and its navigation locks to a location approximately 5 mi. south of Redfish Point in Vermillion Bay. Once in position, two spuds were lowered to help maintain the position.
“Weight, balance and stability — very similar to loading a heavy, multi-engine aircraft — all enter the picture. Just securing the crane to the barge is a major consideration; it’s an important operation for on-the-water work,” Duplechain said.
The Link-Belt 108 H5 crane, with an operating weight of 98,830 lb., was resting on timbers and fastened with a 1-in. diameter steel cable and two 3 ft. long turnbuckles to a pair of pad eyes welded to the barge deck. The cable was snugged down, but with enough play to allow slight movement to prevent its snapping if an unanticipated impact load was suddenly applied.
The barges were fastened together with wire and hemp ropes to help spread the area of stability over a larger square foot area. Once this was done, divers were dispatched into the 10- to 15-ft.-deep soft soil bottomed water to locate and rig for lifting the various debris-entangled production platform components. After the divers were safely out of the water and back aboard the barge, Dale Torro, the crane operator, began the tricky procedure to recover the buoyed loads and gently lower them onto the waiting transport barge.
“Almost as soon as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita had left the area, we had barges with cranes on them to assist in the severely impacted recovery area. Extracting damaged or broken piling and driving new ones was both essential and time critical, as were the recovery and restoration of the production platform. The oil companies were adamant about resuming oil and natural gas production,” Doucet said.
“With speed and safety at the utmost, it wasn’t long before this project was complete and it was time to move on to the next location. All our marine related hurricane recovery work has had to be done without any disruption to our normal schedule to our heavy regular customer base,” Duplechain said.
About the Company
BLR Companies are a Louisiana-based loose confederation of full-service oilfield companies serving the oil, gas and petro-chemical industries throughout Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. It offers every thing from turnkey oil well site location installations to storm or disaster related salvage, recovery or remediation operations, with crews working in both land and marine environments.
In the marine division, it has tugs, tow boats, crew and supply boats. It also has spud barges, deck barges of all types and sizes with compatible sized cranes; pile driving crews, board road crews, drill crews, and roustabout crews.
“In other words, BLR does just about everything in the oil patch except drill the actual well itself,” Doucet said.