Gigantic load’s departure from coast signals completion of major gas project

Dozens gathered as major components for an offshore gas rig departed Lowestoft Harbour. Picture: Thomas Chapman

There was a bustle of interest on the coast as major components for an offshore gas rig were shipped out to sea.

Crowds gathered on Lowestoft’s South Pier as two bridges for the Culzean Gas Field – located in the North Sea 145 miles east of Aberdeen – departed from the harbour.

With a 2,000 tonne power module also transported previously, offshore energy provider Sembmarine SLP has now completed its work for the development of what will be the largest UK-sanctioned gas field since 1990.

The barge carrying the bridges, adorned with a British flag and a notice reading ‘built in Lowestoft: on time’, was carefully navigated out of the harbour as dozens of onlookers enjoyed the spectacle.

Cynthia and Barry Jones, who have lived in Lowestoft all their lives, emphasised the importance of the town’s role in the major project.

“We’ve always lived here and have always been interested in the engineering firms and whatever they’re building,” says Mrs Jones. “I really hope engineering like this continues.

“Unfortunately we missed the module being shipped out yesterday, but we were determined to come down today. It’s a fantastic thing to see and it’s really made my day.”

Picture: Thomas Chapman

Mr Jones adds that the development has been a major milestone in the evolution of Lowestoft’s thriving port.

“We’ve been watching the construction ever since they started and regularly walk down the pier to see how much its grown,” he says.

“It’s an engineering feat to build these structures and manoeuvre them out into the sea. It’s quite a thing to see and a real achievement for Lowestoft.

“The port is continually evolving. From trawlers, to ferry boats, wind turbines – and now there’s talk it could become an important port for fishing once again.”

Engineering specialist Sembmarine SLP was awarded the construction contract for the gas field components in September 2015, with work commencing in May 2016. It signals the latest in a long line of more than 90 ‘made in Lowestoft’ projects completed by the company.

Also looking on during the departure was William Harris, from Kessingland, who adds: “I’ve been keeping track as each part of the rig is built and they ship them out. It interests me because it helps the town and while manufacturing like this is going on there’s still hope for Lowestoft.”

Story and pictures by Thomas Chapman

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