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ALE loads up for heavy lift capacity boost

Company will use its land-based SK10000 crane to target FPSO and FLNG markets

Heavy lift specialist ALE is rolling out what it claims will be the world’s largest capacity land-based crane with a lifting capacity of 10,000 tonnes.

The UK-based company says the SK10000 will target the floating production, storage and offloading and floating liquefied natural gas vessel markets, which are using increasingly heavy topsides modules.

ALE currently has a 5300-tonne capacity crane built to its SK design, the SK350, which has been used to lift modules in Nigeria and Brazil.

Raising capacity to 10,000 tonnes essentially involves scaling up the company’s current SK technology, says ALE global sales director Michael Birch.

“We’re using the same basic design of the SK,” Birch says, referring to a lattice boom crane that rotates around a static ballast.


The larger crane will use the same type of lattice boom as the SK350 but where the latter has one 130-metre-long boom, the SK10000 will have two of the lattice booms connected.

“Because of that we can make it bigger and smaller,” he says, meaning that it can be scaled back down and redeployed after an ultra-heavy lift job.

“Our new design is a new crane based on the components we have used in the earlier cranes. It is 80% built — the crane is ready to be deployed when we secure the first contract for it”, he says.

Birch says the move towards larger modules weighing up to 6000 tonnes for FPSOs and FLNG drove development of the crane.

“We saw there was an opportunity, in speaking to a lot of our clients, particularly on the design side rather than the fabricators,” he says.

“They are interested in building 5000 to 6000-tonne modules. They can lift these modules at some of the yards in Korea, or they can lift them with floating cranes. But floating cranes are very expensive to mobilise.”

He sees the increased lifting capacity as a way for clients to help fulfil local content requirements.

While FPSO and FLNG hulls are typically built in Asian yards, many modules can be assembled and installed in the oil-producing country.

“It allows them to perform the work in the local region. And we’ve done it already in Brazil and in Nigeria with the 5000-tonne crane,” Birch says.

“One advantage is that the crane is containerised, so it can be shipped easily,” he adds.

The new crane has an outreach of up to 200 metres and ground bearing pressure below 25 tonnes per square metre, ALE says.

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