June 21 - The Linde Group has contracted Combi Lift as its logistics partner for the oversized and heavy lift cargo for the Gazprom Amur gas processing plant project in Russia.

The scope of the contract involves transporting over 176,000 tonnes of cargo, including 12 columns weighing 900 tonnes each.

The cargoes will be discharged at the Port of Svobodny, located on the Zeya river, a northern tributary of the Amur river which forms the border between the far east of Russia and north eastern China, spanning 2,824 km.

According to Combi Lift, as the water is only 1.1 m deep in some areas and the weather conditions are often severe, the heavy lift transportation will be challenging. To combat the potential issues, the cargo will be loaded onto Combi Lift's heavy lift vessels in ports in Europe and South Korea before being transferred to barges at the Port of De-Kastri, Russia, using its vessel cranes.

Shallow draft pusher tugs will tow the barges along the Amur and Zeya rivers to Svobodny, where the cargo will be discharged at a jetty and will be transferred to the last mile logistics service provider.

Combi Lift will use newly built assets, including four Amur river tugs, four Zeya river shallow draft tugs, seven barges and four side floaters, which are being built by Damen Shipyards Group.

According to Damen, due to the specific demands of the local environmental conditions, and the project itself, it is making a number of adaptations to the vessels from its standardised portfolio. Damen will reduce the overall weight and lengthen/widen the vessels to achieve reduced draught and increased buoyancy.

A wheelhouse that can be raised will be mounted to give a clear overview of the deck and cargo, and the barges will be able to navigate the Zeya river in low water levels by using the side floaters as a buoyancy system.

Construction of the vessels will take place at Damen Yichang Shipyard in China and Damen Shipyards Gorinchem and Damen Shipyards Hardinxveld in the Netherlands.

The cargo will subsequently be shipped in five phases from 2018 to 2022, taking advantage of the ice-free periods on the Amur and Zeya rivers.

Gazprom, the Linde Group, Gazprom Pererabotka Blagoveshchensk and NIPIGAS will use the components for the natural gas processing plant, which has a capacity of up to 42 billion cu m of natural gas per year.

The plant is part of Gazprom's project for the supply of Russian gas to China via the Power of Siberia pipeline from eastern Siberian gas fields, and will be built in five phases ending in 2024.