4 years ago



PNG LNG PROJECT cargosuper market ‘For us, it was not just a commercial project but the chance to test ourselves again’ ExxonMobil contracted Volga-Dnepr Airlines, the world’s largest transporter of outsize and heavyweight air cargo, which over more than 20 years had demonstrated its unique ability to ‘make the impossible possible’. When teams of specialists from ExxonMobil and Volga-Dnepr first got together in 2008 to discuss the project, one question dominated the conversation: was it theoretically possible to fly thousands of tonnes of large, heavy, complex and sensitive equipment into the remote Highlands of Papua New Guinea to enable the building of a gas conditioning plant? The combined expertise and knowledge of the two organisations established that undertaking such a complex air logistics task was indeed possible – but first they had to build an airport. For Volga-Dnepr, working on projects some years in advance of performing an actual flight operation is part and parcel of its unique place in the world of aviation. The size and design of big pieces of high value industrial equipment, aircraft components and space satellites are often based on their ability to fit into the airline’s fleet of giant Antonov An-124 freighters because major global corporations recognise the vital role Volga-Dnepr plays in their supply chain. In the first phase of their cooperation, a joint team from ExxonMobil and Volga- Dnepr travelled to Papua New Guinea to evaluate four proposed locations for a new Highlands airport. This was subsequently reduced to two sites following inspections and, ultimately, one location in Komo based on Volga-Dnepr’s study of load lists and route options. Back in the UK, members of ExxonMobil’s PNG LNG Project team met with the airline to plan how many An-124 flights would be required, which routes would be used, the frequency of operations, the length of the project and flight programme, and the costs involved. In 2010, work began on the new Komo Airfield. To be able to handle An-124 freighter operations would require building Papua New Guinea’s longest paved runway at 3,200m in length and 45m wide. Once complete the new airport would be able continued on page 12

cargosuper market CASE STUDY ‘deugro and Volga-Dnepr Airlines were brought together early on in the project in putting together a unique trailer loading and off-loading concept to reduce the overall ground handling times for the aircraft’ continued from page 11 to welcome the world’s largest seriesproduced cargo aircraft with its 73 metre wingspan, maximum take-off weight of 392 tons and payload of up to 120 tonnes. It would feed construction equipment and materials virtually to the door of the gas processing site through a series of 90-minute flights from Port Moresby. The Soviet-built An-124 makes light work of logistics projects well beyond the capability of other commercial airliners. In terms of cargo handling, the aircraft is virtually self sufficient. Craneless loading and offloading technology saves hours and eliminates any additional costs arising from the need for third party handling equipment. In this case, reducing the time the aircraft needed to spend on the ground was essential to the one-flight-per-day schedule set for the project. Another key partner in the Hides project was deugro, which was awarded the contract for the international freight forwarding and logistics package as well as the Papua New Guinea in-country marshalling facility in Port Moresby and heavy-haul service package for delivery to the Hides Gas Conditioning Plant – in total, managing the delivery of some 72,500 metric tonnes. Via the establishment of a purpose-built marshalling yard facility at Jacksons International Airport, deugro’s Port Moresby office managed the inbound customs clearance, storage and handling of the heavy and outsize pieces of equipment prior to their ultimate loading onto the Antonov 124 aircraft for onwards delivery to Komo. In Komo, it was again deugro that was responsible for receiving the heavy and outsize equipment from the An-124 aircraft and delivering the equipment over the final 25 kilometers to the plant. Richard Jürgens, Project Manager for deugro Projects (Australia) says: “A project of this scale has never been attempted within PNG. The infrastructure one takes for granted in a developed Oil & Gas environment was not present. This meant a massive investment in additional resources, skills and subsequent training and infrastructure development was needed, to up-scale the roads, bridges, transportation equipment and network to cope with the logistics demands of the various contractors. Route surveys, transport studies and infrastructure analysis in respect to bridge strength and capacity, road surfaces, bends and inclines were conducted by deugro’s transport engineering team more than a year in advance to ensure that the ultimate transport equipment utilized remained the best fit to what essentially became forever changing conditions. ”The remote and at times volatile location, the lack of locally available support equipment and technicians and adverse weather conditions steered the logistics approach, particularly from a heavy haul and project logistics perspective, to one of being completely self-reliant. “This lent to establishing a fully competent team of experienced operators familiar with the risks of operating heavy transport equipment in such harsh conditions, to consistently ensure the delivery of materials to the construction site day after day.“ A key factor in the success of the logistics project was the cooperation of the partners from an early stage. Richard Jürgens adds: “deugro and Volga-Dnepr Airlines were brought together early on in the ‘The remote and at times volatile location,the lack of locally available support equipment and technicians and adverse weather conditions steered the logistics approach’

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