UK-based accommodation provider Bibby Maritime believes its floating accommodation barges could be an efficient solution for the housing of mineworkers in the future, as the units are comfortable, cost effective and can be moored alongside any berth or quay, making them ideal for projects in remote locations.
The company targets remote offshore or near-shore projects that require accommodation facilities, catering to mining, oil and gas companies that do not have the time or capital to build conventional accommodation to house their executives and workforce.
Bibby Maritime commercial director Carl McLaughlin explains that the company has received requests for its floating accommodation solution from mining companies in locations as diverse as Canada, Nigeria and Papua New Guinea. “Where a mining operation requires an offloading port, it lends itself to our floating accommodation solution for its workforce.”
The company, which exhibited at the 2017 Investing in African Mining Indaba, in Cape Town, from February 6 to 9, owns five barges, which are able to accommodate between 180 and 700 workers, depending on the barge size.
As Bibby Maritime ‘floatels’ are on short- and long-term charters globally, their locations change regularly. Potential clients can enquire about a barge’s availability and, depending on where it is located, it can be towed to the client within a matter of days, says the company.
All the barges have en-suite shower rooms. Bibby Maritime can configure the berths to accommodate single or multiple occupants, depending on the client’s requirements.
The company adds that there is no minimum or maximum contract period, but advises that the economic advantages are greatest for contract periods over three months.
The company’s on-board teams maintain the accommodation barge and its life-critical systems to ensure a comfortable and safe living environment for project workers. Bibby Maritime is able to arrange security staff for on-site management and patrols, and can adapt entrance and exit technology to include swipe card access, barriers, turnstiles or other security features for projects in volatile regions. Further, with projects that have a large number of guests or a high workforce turnover, the company can arrange for a reception service to welcome workers and coordinate room and key allocation.
Two of the barges frequently used for oil and gas projects include the Bibby Progress and the Bibby Challenge.
In its current configuration, the Progress houses up to 310 people in single en-suite bedrooms and includes a bar, a gym and terrace. The furnished bedrooms have en-suite shower rooms, flatscreen TVs, windows and desks with chairs.
The vessel is 91.4 m × 27.4 m, with a height of 22.5 m from the bottom of keel to its highest point. It has fire-detection, fire-protection and alarm systems, with manual alarm points throughout the unit and an override control panel at reception. There are fire hoses fitted in all accommodation and machinery spaces, as well as a separate sprinkler system for all areas on board, except in the machinery spaces which are protected by a carbon dioxide flooding system.
The diesel engines are intended to use marine gas oil, with the five generators producing a combined 1 250 kW, or 250 kW each. A packaged generator is installed to provide contingency power and produces 900 kW, or 440 V. Normal barge load is 600 kW.
With regard to the vessel’s sewage management, US-based wastewater treatment product manufacturer SludgeHammer’s sewage treatment system is installed. The patented anaerobic bacterial generator is installed in septic tanks where microorganisms begin digesting waste, ensuring that overboard discharge is safe and environment friendly.
Spaces throughout the vessel are fully air conditioned and are automatically controlled to maintain the desired temperature level.
The Challenge offers en-suite accommodation for up to 670 workers and can be configured to offer a mixture of single and double rooms. There is also a large kitchen and restaurant, a bar, a gym, laundry facilities and relaxation and games areas. The furnished bedrooms include en-suite showers, wardrobes, desks and other storage, flatscreen TVs and WiFi. The vessel’s dimensions are similar to that of the Progress, with the same fire-protection systems and sewerage system installed. It is also fully air-conditioned and has four 240 kW generators.
In terms of African clientele, Bibby has in the last decade supplied accommodation barges to clients with oil and gas projects in Nigeria and Angola.
Bibby Maritime is based in Liverpool and forms part of shipping and marine services conglomerate Bibby Line Group (BLG), a family business delivering accommodation solutions for more than 200 years. BLG is valued at £1.4-billion and operates in more than 20 countries, employing over 4 500 people in various industries, including retail, offshore, financial services, distribution, shipping and plant hire.