When two major industrial projects brought more than 2,500 workers to Shetland, floating hotels helped solve the demand for beds.
But they called for heavy-duty fenders to safeguard the floatel’s mooring.
At the point where the Atlantic meets the North Sea, the hilly and treeless Shetland archipelago forms the northernmost outpost of Scotland.
In fact, the capital, Lerwick, is situated further north than Norway’s capital, Oslo.
Since the late 1970s, Shetland has provided a pivotal spot for the North Sea oil and gas industry, which today forms an important backbone of the Shetland economy.
Two multimillion-pound oil and gas projects are currently under way: construction of the new Shetland Gas Plant and the refurbishing of the Sullom Voe oil and liquefied gas terminal – one of the largest in Europe.
This has created a huge influx of workers. But where do you house more than 2,500 workers on an island short on hotel beds?
The simple solution turned out to be “floatels”: hotels that float on the water. These were rented in from various sources, providing an extra 1,000 beds.
Three floatels are now moored in Lerwick and one in Scalloway, on the west coast of the Central Mainland. Bibby Maritime Ltd. Of Liverpool, England, owns two of the floatels, including Bibby Challenge, a floatel berthed in Scalloway to house Sullom Voe workers.
It has 337 single-berth bedrooms as well as a kitchen, restaurant, gymnasium, recreation rooms, reception and laundry facilities, and provides a comfortable home away from home for the temporary workforce.
However, the Shetland climate can be extremely windy. Local marine consultant Captain Zander Simpson of Shetland Maritime Ltd. was contracted by Bibby Maritime to provide a safe, secure mooring for the floatel, including fendering that could withstand the roughest conditions.
“The docking of the floatel demanded a high-quality fendering system capable of providing a safe and reliable cushion between the vessel and quay,” Simpson said.
After doing his research, Simpson contacted Robert Mason, responsible for the fender rental service, at Trelleborg Offshore & Construction.
“Trelleborg is an outstanding provider of fenders, and rental is a very cost-effective solution,” Simpson explained.
“Robert was very helpful and even travelled to Shetland to oversee the fenders’ arrival in May last year.”
The Bibby Challenge mooring uses six Trelleborg 3.0 x 1.5 meter pneumatic fenders, which are rented for two years. Pneumatic fenders provide a safe, low-maintenance, high-performance mooring alternative, and the Shetland winter has indeed put them to the test, with almost four months of nonstop severe winds pushing Bibby Challenge onto the jetty.
Simpson stated: “It’s been as good a test as the Trelleborg fenders probably will ever get. They have stood up well to the extreme conditions.”